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  • Living

Praying to die and willing to live

Wednesday, 13th December, 2017 12:40pm

Story by Siobhan Holliman
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Praying to die and willing to live

Gerry Coy of AIDS West.jpg

Praying to die and willing to live

Gerry Coy of AIDS West.jpg

BEING diagnosed as HIV positive nearly 30 years ago and still being around to tell the tale of the intervening years is pretty much a miracle in terms of the disease.

Gary, who continues to live in Galway, is one of the few survivors of that era in the country.
He vividly recalls the day he was diagnosed. “I'd told my mother that I couldn't possibly have it. The doctor said, ‘I'm very sorry but you’re HIV positive’.
“I went into spasm. I was just stunned. I knew nothing about it, knew no one. It was the last thing I expected,” he recalls. “It sounds ridiculous but I didn't even know how I’d got it.”
The diagnosis came in 1989 while Gary was already in hospital being treated for bipolar disorder and he became extremely depressed for at least two years; everyone around him was dying and he spent a lot of his time going to funerals.
It was a lonely and secretive time for anyone with HIV. People were dying, being mourned and buried but no one discussed what killed them, it just happened. Shame, disgust and secrecy surrounded the dying and their relatives.
While there has been a significant turnaround with regard to treating the disease and the overall reduction of people contracting HIV, Gary is quite blunt — “It's definitely not a status that I’d share with an acquaintance.”

Read the full feature in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald

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