Bring your community together & help those over 50 to overcome isolation

“I’ve got my life back” – HIV sufferer praises ‘life-changing’ support group in Birmingham

A Birmingham man with HIV who had “nothing to get up for” has praised the “life-changing” impact of a city-wide support group which has helped him get his life back.

The 51-year-old, known only as Andy, was diagnosed with HIV four years ago and attends Positive West Midlands, a group funded by our programme, Ageing Better in Birmingham. Andy, who is married with two children, contracted the disease through sexual encounters with men. Speaking ahead of World Aids Day (December 1), he said: “Since joining the group, I now have something to get up for. It takes away the isolation. The group has opened doors for me and boosted my confidence.

“The difference with me is that I’m married. The group helps to keep us together. My wife also needs support, she wanted to ask people what to expect. She has stood by me.”

Andy added: “When I was diagnosed I sunk into depression and became a recluse. It was a big shock, my funeral was booked. I spent my time on Google trying to find out what was going to happen to me.

“Being part of the group has taught me that I am not alone. It’s been life-changing for me. I attend twice a week and really look forward to it. I now take a bit of extra care about myself. Before I had nothing to get up for but now, I have my life back.”

Alan Wilson, 51, who runs Positive West Midlands, said: “Nowadays HIV can be kept under control longer, however taking medications can lead to complications with blood pressure and bone density and there is still a stigma, even in gay communities.

“As a group we are trying to build-up people’s self-esteem and provide a place to meet in a safe environment and the opportunity to talk to other people in the same situation.” 

The group, which has members aged from 22 to 83, meet on Mondays and Fridays at secure premises in Corporation Street. You can find more information on our events page here: Positive West Midlands

So far 2,723 people have benefited from the Ageing Better in Birmingham programme, which has developed existing community events, clubs and activities and refocused them on encouraging people to get together to reduce isolation.

People of all ages are being encouraged to apply for up to £2,000 through the Ageing Better Fund to start activities, initiatives and events for the collective benefit of isolated older people across the city. If you would like to set up a new activity for older LGBT people in Birmingham, contact Maria on  or call 0121 643 0821

 

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