Sydneyan Abby Landy’s life was endangered when doctors showed great neglect after the woman who works as a legal assistant started suspecting she might be infected with HIV.
Landy developed aggressive cold sores after sleeping with her new partner and asked doctors for an HIV test, but was told by doctors her chances of having the incurable disease were ‘so slim’ because she’s Australian, and was sent home with antiviral medication instead of having a blood test.
Her doctor said: ‘Abby, it’s probably not necessary. You know, you’re an Australian woman, the chances of you having come into contact or contracting HIV are so slim that doing the test probably isn’t necessary.’
She was unconvinced and googled her symptoms to find they were ‘terrifyingly similar’ to HIV. She had to return to the doctors several times and after ending up in the emergency department, Landy was faced with the chilling truth. frightening reality.’The test came back positive,’
‘The test came back positive,’ Ms Landy told the ABC.
The 28-year-old contracted the virus when she was 23 after entering into a new sexual relationship. She told Daily Mail Australia the man she was seeing ‘became quite sexually aggressive, and I became unwell’.
After ending things with him, Landy was sent a sinister text message which read ‘I hope you remember me forever’ and several days later a terrible case of cold sores prompted her to visit the doctor who initially insisted she did not need the test.
She said: ‘Anyone who is sexually active is at risk. And it makes no sense to me why you wouldn’t run the test routinely.’
Australian women with HIV do not fit the bill of a ‘stereotypical’ HIV-infected person, and the 28-year old says females carrying the virus are often shamed into silence.
‘I felt a great deal of shame initially, and I was terrified. I was never going to tell anybody. But I started engaging in private women’s groups with other positive women. I just felt like my situation really allowed me the privilege to speak about my experience.’
WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV
The 9th of March 2017 is the inaugural National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia. Around 10 percent of the country’s HIV population is female, meaning there are currently an estimated 2,700 women living with HIV in Australia.
While the National Network of Women Living with HIV believes the relatively low number is something to be celebrated, the downside is that women living with HIV are not considered a priority population in Australia.
As a result, women living with HIV often feel isolated, marginalized and invisible in the Australian HIV landscape. This also negatively affects how they are funded and supported, which in turn limits the development of women-run facilitated events and support organizations.
It is hoped that the initiation of a National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia will help raise the profile of women living with the virus, reduce stigma and encourage women to test, help women understand that they are at risk and normalize HIV as a virus that impacts on all women in Australia.