A HIV sufferer from Solihull has shared her tragic life story in an attempt to warn local people that no one is immune from the killer disease.
Looking at Elaine, a white, middle class, middle aged woman, who looks to be in perfect health, no one would guess that in 2004, she was diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, which destroys the body’s immune system.
On the fateful day she was diagnosed, the mum-of-two said her world “just fell apart.”
“I had a knock on the door from an NHS health worker. She told me that someone I had been with was infected with HIV and I should get tested.
“By 4pm that day I had my results back and they were positive.
“I must have cried solidly for six weeks when I found out, it just felt like a death sentence.”
But when she turned to her friends for comfort, she was abandoned.
“I lost all my friends. They all disowned me by letter or text. I was totally isolated.”
It was years before she told any of her family and only informed her two daughters, now 19 and 20, last year.
“My daughters were hysterical, upset and angry, more angry that I hadn’t told anyone and had to go through it alone.”
Elaine said she has “nothing but hate” for the man who infected her during a three-year violent relationship where she was raped on several occasions.
But sadly, before being diagnosed, she unwittingly spread HIV to two partners, something which she says she has “massive feelings of guilt” over.
“I do blame myself and will so forever,” she added.
Elaine has now decided to dedicate the rest of her life to raising awareness of HIV and Aids which affects an estimated 86,500 people in the UK, a quarter of whom are unaware they have it. Solihull is believed to have around 100 cases.
“I want people like me to know they are at risk too,” she said. “Don’t think you’re immune because you don’t fit into the stereotypes of drug addicts, gay men or black Africans.
“From the age of becoming sexually active you are open to infection.
“I would encourage everyone to get tested, it can save someone’s life.”
World Aids Day takes place on December 1 to raise awareness and show support for sufferers across the world.
For more information visit www.worldaidsday.org or to book in a HIV test contact Sue Price at Terrence Higgins Trust on 07876 507648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.