Wednesday 26 October 2016

Anna Nolan: I'll never forget the awful day my good pal Scott was diagnosed with HIV

Anna Nolan
Anna Nolan
Rory O'Neill

I remember when the very first person said to me "I'm HIV positive". I actually didn't know what to say. I just hugged him and he laughed at me.

His name was Scott. It was 1992 and I was living in Edinburgh. I was working in place called The Blue Moon Café. Life on the gay scene in Edinburgh back then was such fun.

But there was a darkness that had begun to settle into the community. Some of the men had become HIV positive. It really was a scary time.

Scott was in his early 20s. He had very short brown hair, piercing blue eyes and sallow skin. He was beautiful and bold - he would party day and night.

I was a naive young Irish woman straight out of Ireland and a convent. He would make me giggle with all his adventures - clubbing, hooking up with cute guys, having the time of his life. Living a life than any young person should live.


Scott became HIV positive just before medication became available which means, if you are living with this infection today, you can be strong and healthy.

Strong like Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, who talked last weekend about his journey after he was diagnosed as HIV positive.

When Rory first got the news, he thought that it was the end of the road. He spoke of that time in a way that is very reflective and mature.

And he, like the other people in his position, know that it was hell back then. Young gay men, mainly, were being savaged by this virus.

But now, he is in a really good place. As he says he's "as healthy as a horse".

We might think that HIV has gone away, but in 2014, 377 people contracted the infection here.

Scott died. A very young man. He missed out on the treatment that is available now. But the virus still exists and is still dangerous. So let's not take the treatment for granted and stay safe.

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