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Forgotten Survivors

I am surviving HIV/AIDS. That's great for me, but what do I have? I have a life , but it's a life where I struggle and live in poverty with no money or dignity.

This is a turning time for me, and has been for a number months now. I am well enough to go back to work, but can I? No real new clothes. Second hand clothes seem only a dream. Even this system sets about to rip me off.
What about going out one night, that is certainly a dream. I know I would love to go out and have a meal then a show and follow with one of Melbourne's gay venues.

Our organisations have had to cope and pass on the measures to us. For example we pay for our meals and massage, haircuts and any other new services.

I am lucky. I have a car, but let me tell you a little story. I used to live in a townhouse in Fairfield. I had to move into public housing, because of finances. I wanted to stay within the area. Guess where they put me: in Lalor. Away from all the services and friends. You might say I had a choice. I was desperate and I had to take it. But it is a new home, people kept on saying to me.

So I live in sunny Lalor now. You might know who I am, but have you been to dinner at my place? Highly unlikely, as I cannot do dinners for my friends any more. To do so would send me into financial hardship and my friends won't travel the distance. Even public transport is a problem, the nearest train is 20 - 30 minutes walk (or five minutes in the car, if I have the money for petrol).

Let's talk about my car for a moment. It is not much. It has been faithful over the years. When I left work a few years ago I received a small redundancy, so I put some money into the car, e.g. new carpet and fixed up the seats as the previous owner had a dog that had shredded the back seat. The car was mechanically sound as I had taken it to get a RACV check and had little faults fixed. I knew that this car was going to be my last (let's remember HIV meant a short life expectancy). But now I expect to be around a little longer. I use the car more often as I am well and when I can get about a little more. My car has now become unwell. It has chronic rust. But who cares, looks are not everything and it has an oil leak.

Now that I live in Lalor (Aust.), I use my car a lot even to get to Outpatient appointments. I go to Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic because parking is not a problem, our medications are dispensed for free, and I feel at home there. I also use my car to try and keep my sanity a little. Like visiting the parks and gardens of Melbourne, as I cannot visit the venues such as Steamworks, Club 80, Ten Plus. These require money - that's why I prefer the parks and gardens.

I like to fill my car with petrol so I can get around. I fill the car with petrol when I have money. It seems the petrol stations know this and put up the price when I get paid. Before the price is nearly down to a reasonable price, I have run out of money as I have to pay the bills (gas elec. and telephone).

What is a phone call to a friend. It is usually a time to escape the loneliness. I see a phone call as important as this provides a time to socialise, other than watching television.

So what about home? I have no partner so I do it alone, I have to love my television and video as this keeps a little sanity. I watch a bit of television, maybe too much, and as I watch all the ads I dream about what I could have. I have had to compromise on fast foods. I try and make my own fast foods and sweets and it is much healthier at least you know what is in it, and it's cheaper. When was the last time I got a video from the video shop? It was six months ago and it was 7 films for 5 dollars. Not new releases, it was old weeklies. I love my Star Trek, I watched one of the Voyager series the other month at a friend's place. It was great. I think the last one I saw before then was 2.5 and that was nearly one and half years ago. I have just seen, I think, 3.13. I have missed all the other episodes I will wait awhile to see the others. I hope the video shop gets them. I think not. You see the population of Lalor and its surrounding area doesn't care for Sci- Fi. Seems to me that they prefer to see Action and Violence. So I could be waiting awhile.

On reflection, I need help. I am like the old car, I have grown a little tired, I need an overhaul and confidence. I continue to live, because I love life. It gives me some little pleasures, even if I have to struggle for them.

This story has been kindly sent by PLWHA Victoria, Australia. Added to the site September, 1999.

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