Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Deniliquin HIV sufferer’s education plea

Deniliquin man Peter Hall is raising awareness of HIV, a disease he contracted 11 years ago before leaving England.

CASS SAVELLIS June 10, 2014 3:30am

Peter Hall is raising awareness of HIV, a disease he contracted 11 years ago before leaving England.

Peter Hall contracted HIV after being sexually assaulted at a party when he was 39 years old.

He was devastated when diagnosed.

Now aged 50 and having moved to Deniliquin from Melbourne a year ago, he is aiming to break down the barriers between the fact and fiction of the deadly virus.

Mr Hall believes there should be more education in schools and awareness among youth on HIV and its effects.

‘‘There is a definite social stigma attached to HIV. You can’t run away from something like that,’’ he said.

‘‘Not everyone will hire you because they’re scared they might contract it. But you can’t pass on HIV from sharing a kitchen or even using the same toilet seat.

‘‘Once you have HIV you can’t get private health, you can’t work in certain industries and can’t get life insurance.

‘‘You can’t make long term plans for the future. Everything changes.’’

However Mr Hall, who migrated to Australia from England in 2006, now wants to share his knowledge and experiences to assist young people in making the right life choices.

He bravely approached the Pastoral Times to tell his story.

‘‘I just want people to know the information is there if they want it; I’m an open book,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘Although this topic may offend some, younger people need to be educated enough not to make the same mistakes others have in the past.

‘‘I’d like to think the young people of Deni are able to make informed decisions and I want to give people an avenue to learn.

‘‘I’ve seen HIV speakers in Melbourne go around to schools and I think it’s a real benefit.

‘‘People are wary to talk about it because it’s known as the ‘gay plague’, but what people don’t know is that almost a quarter of transmissions affect heterosexual women.

‘‘Certainly worldwide it’s a major problem; there are 35 million around the world who have HIV. Everyone is going to know somebody that it has affected.’’

For Mr Hall, living with HIV, while manageable, is an everyday battle.

There is daily medication to help combat the virus, which weakens or breaks down your immune system and makes the body vulnerable to disease and infection.

And there is no known cure for HIV, which Mr Hall says ‘‘feels surreal at times’’.

However, he says his quality of life has improved since moving to a rural setting.

‘‘Living in Melbourne I was in hospital for three or four months a year,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘I’m now the healthiest I’ve ever been and I attribute that to being here.

‘‘There’s really good doctors here in town and most people want to get to know you.’’

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