I was diagnosed with both HIV and Hep C in 2010. In November 2016, I sat down in my HIV and Hep C specialist's consultation room. I thought this was a routine consultation, but my specialist had some great news for me. A turning point had been reached in terms of access to the new direct acting antiviral (DAA) treatments for Hep C.
The LGBT community is more empowered than ever before, but we still have considerable work to do for trans people. The report shows that we must empower individuals and change institutions, whilst also seeking legislative reform of, amongst others, the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act.
For me, Michelangelo is one of the most fascinating LGBT historical figures. The greatest artist of all time, his sculptures, paintings and architecture continue to shape the world we live in today. Michelangelo's sexual identity is played out in his art.
Testing for HIV is the responsible thing to do and is easy and confidential. The sooner you know your status the better. There are approximately 17,000 people in the UK who do not know their HIV status. If you are HIV positive and do not know, your health could be compromised.
Daylight penetrates from either side of the drawn down blind. Everything is submerged in a monotonous gloom. After a long struggle, I find the energy to get up and go to work. The previous day, I had been told that I was HIV positive.
Whilst the UK has progressed on LGBT issues, in lots of ways Northern Ireland has been left behind. Northern Ireland's politicians are letting down the Northern Irish people. Politicians are failing to reflect their views on same-sex marriage and uphold the rights of LGBT people. As LGBT people we don't want to be treated as special, we want to be treated as equal. Northern Ireland has the right to have same-sex marriage.
Stigma underpins the violence women living with HIV face. HIV and the stigma associated with it can destroy confidence and erode lives. Stigma operates in a number of ways. Women are often the first to be tested for HIV in a family.
It's now only four months until I commence the new Hep C treatment. After five years of living with Hep C, I will soon be cured. The new treatment, using a medication called sofosbuvir, lasts 12 weeks and is almost 100 per cent effective. Hep C is the first virus that doctors have been able to cure. It is possible that Hep C may be eliminated in the UK within the next decade.
If, ten years ago, someone had told me that I would be the person I am today, I would not have believed them. I've developed in completely unexpected ways. I've tried to take advantage of every opportunity. I've successfully faced challenges.
On 28 August 2014 I sponsored a puppy called Angel. Angel is a gorgeous golden retriever. She is yellow, furry and confident. Angel is being trained as a guide dog. I'm sent regular "pupdates" by the Guide Dogs, a charity which does important and massively empowering work.
It was a traumatic experience when I was diagnosed with HIV in January 2010. I had visited Birmingham that morning for a business meeting and rushed back to London. I was in a hurry as I had to return to the office.
There is a candle there which continually burns in remembrance of them. I like to think my candle is symbolic of the everlasting flame of Christianity which burns inside me illuminating my soul. I am now ready to move onto the next chapter in my life.