ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for November, 2008

Go For It!

21 Years of World Aids Day – 1st December 2008 

 

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If it wasn’t for the fact that I am now living with HIV, or to put it the other way round HIV is living, albeit against my will, with me, I would never have crossed the welcoming threshold of Body Positive North West and therefore wouldn’t have met all the truly inspirational people who have contributed in so many wonderful ways to my life.

Neither would I be involved this World AIDS Day in Body Positive’s current and innovative project, ‘The Green Ribbon Campaign,’ a campaign close to my heart in that it advocates the importance of HIV testing and of knowing your status – a knowledge which can save not only your own life, but the lives of others.

I would never have started this website and blog either, which continues in its weird and eccentric way to raise awareness about HIV through the most unlikely roads such as knitting, although this is mainly down to the photo kindly donated by a fellow service user of his magnificent knitted underpants.  

Here’s hoping the Green Ribbon campaign can achieve so much more – maybe we should all start knitting ribbons and get our needles and green balls out, or for the sake of the squeamish, maybe not!

 

Body Positive North West – Green Ribbon Campaign

Outside London, Manchester has the highest adult HIV prevalence of any city in the UK.  Similar to the rest of the UK, one third of people living with HIV in this region remain undiagnosed. Most HIV transmission occurs from people unaware of their status. Diagnosing the undiagnosed is a major public health challenge for the UK.   

December 1st 2008 is the 21st Anniversary of World AIDS day.  To mark this occasion and to promote HIV testing, particularly instant HIV testing at Body Positive North West, BPNW has decided to introduce the concept of the Green Ribbon to the North West.  

A Green Ribbon to promote HIV testing was first seen in Botswana. It was intended to remove some of the stigma and negative associations with the Red Ribbon.  The Green Ribbon is worn to promote getting tested for HIV and living positively with the outcome, regardless of the result. 

This concept has not yet been seen in the UK and we hope to be a forerunner for further campaigns. 

The campaign will be run in conjunction with MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health) and Brook Manchester. 

Aims and outcomes

By creating a high impact campaign for the 21st Anniversary of World Aids Day in Manchester, BPNW will

• promote HIV testing

• increase awareness of 60 second HIV testing at BPNW

• encourage people to take the test and live responsibly with the outcome

• educate about life with HIV and availability and improvements of treatments 

Go4it!

We will encourage people to ‘go4it’ Instant HIV Testing. 

Wearing the green ribbon does not denote your HIV status. It is simply an acknowledgement that you are aware of and promote HIV testing.

The green ribbon raises the profile of the actual HIV test, highlighting that there are things people can do to improve their health.  

If you are HIV positive, you:

  • Have hope for the future because you know where to get help.
  • Are living positively by not re-infecting him/her self or infecting others.
  • Are encouraging peers to do the same
  • Are practising positive living.

 

If you are HIV negative, you:

  • Have acted responsibly by finding out your status
  • Are ensuring that you will remain HIV negative
  • Are encouraging all your peers to do the same

 If you are proactively supporting people who may be at risk

  • You will be able to discuss the value of HIV testing
  • You will know where people can get HIV tested, including the availability of instant testing at Body Positive North West.
  • You will possess some basic, non-prejudicial facts about HIV.

 What we ask you to do

  • Wear the Green Ribbon and ask other people- your colleagues, friends and family to do the same.   Take a photograph of yourself wearing the Green Ribbon email us a photograph telling us who you are.  We would ask your permission to use the photograph in our campaign materials.  
  • Wear the green ribbon on World AIDS day and when people ask you why, tell them about the campaign. 

 

BPNW switchboard 0161 882 2200 

Seeing Red

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Picture: seeingred:©adrienneseed

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When Autumn Leaves (and my hair) Start to Fall

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Mother Nature, mistress of the seasons, seems to have completely skipped summer this year as autumn tightens its golden grip and the jobsworthy gardeners amongst us will have already planted their daffodil bulbs in readiness for next spring. Yet autumn, the season of decay and mellow fruitfulness has come around far too soon for my liking and along with the falling leaves and the famous song, my hair seems to be following suite – although, it isn’t exactly drifting past my window and neither is it red, or even gold at the moment, as I can’t afford to go to the hairdresser these days the prices they charge, but my once tousled and unruly mane is definitely losing its not so golden grip and shedding all around. Now, I don’t know whether this is down to the new meds, a side effect of which is hair loss, the season of decay and mellow fruitfulness, or my age – a bit like the poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sherlock’s (or sheer locks as we are talking about hair) brother perhaps? –  

 

“The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first grey hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.”

 

Well, I may not be a beauty, but I definitely feel as though I have seen one season too many and so apparently does my falling hair, which I hope like the daffodils will pop back up in the spring, although I would look a bit daft with daffodils growing out of the top of my head.

Cost aside, an urgent consultation with my hairdresser was deemed necessary in view of my falling locks, as opposed to leaves, but I find as I get older, I dread a visit to the salon more and more. This is down to two reasons. One you have to sit there in front of a mirror and stare at your face for hours on end with your hair scraped back, thus exposing your wrinkles, turkey neck etc. in all their glory and two you are obliged to indulge in polite conversation with your stylist. In other words, you have to talk about frivolous things, such as holidays or where you are going that night, which in my case is usually nowhere. So I have to make up some mythical engagement, otherwise my stylist might lose interest in the end result if I am only going to sleep on it – and sadder still, sleep on it alone.

 

By placing yourself in your stylist’s hands you are also putting yourself in a position of extreme danger, as at some point they will be wielding a pair of razor sharp scissors, so you have to be very careful what you say for fear of annoying, antagonising or upsetting them. The fact that your hair is getting thinner is cruelly and unnecessarily pointed out to you and meaningful questions are then asked, such as, not been looking after yourself lately, or the dreaded and more revealing question of, are you on any kind of medication which could be causing this extreme hair loss? This leads to the quandary of whether or not to reveal to your hairdresser that you are HIV positive. Why should you, you may respond, as hair is hardly a danger, as supposedly it’s already dead, or like mine, about to become an endangered species. However, what if there should be a slip of the scissors twixt hair and lip?

Until now, I have not given this question much thought, but in view of my public profile, I wondered if my stylist had finally got wind of me, so to speak and if it was time to let it all out, although not the wind I hasten to add, which according to medical advice is better out than in – but definitely not advisable, I would have thought, in a public place.

 

I’ve been going to the same hairdresser now for years, but unlike me, she never looks a day older and her ever changing underlings and trainees, like policemen and newsreaders seem to be getting younger and younger every time I go and what’s more they seem to speak in some sort of indecipherable young person’s code. I think this aberration of the English language has come about through the use of mobile phones and the national obsession with texting. For example, the word ‘book’ now means ‘cool’ because apparently that’s what your phone comes up with if it’s set to predictive text. Even more confusingly, at least for the likes of me, ‘long’ now means boring or overcomplicated, as in, ‘that short film was very long.’

 

I’d better be careful then when I ask my hairdresser to keep my hair long, as it might end up being short – or worse being boring.

 

I didn’t know either that if a person was suffering from ‘fomo’ it was not a new term for being a gay female but a fear of missing out, or that young people no longer have wardrobes, they have chairdrobes, which doesn’t really surprise me considering my son, who doesn’t have either, instead he has a  floordrobe.  It seems people no longer have what used to be termed as a holiday romance, they have a vacationship, but not obviously with a nillionaire as they have texspectations – as in greater presumably.

Nowadays you might come across some strange and mysterious abbreviations on mobile phones, such as ‘focl’ which stands for, falling off chair laughing, or ‘ricl’ rolling in chair laughing. Picnic is no longer a jaunt into the countryside with a hamper; it is short for – problem in chair not in computer. Is that a bit like computer says no in ‘Little Britain’?

 

But beware if you see the letters ‘tgwig’ inscribed on your husbands mobile phone, he is not talking about branches or wigs for his balding pate, he is saying – thank god wife is gone, or likewise watch out for the letters ‘dnimb’, which mean – dancing naked in my bra, which would be even more unsettling in that they could signify he had suddenly taken up cross dressing.

Baggkyko is not a little elf from the hobbit or ‘Lord of the Rings’, it means, be a good girl and keep your knickers on. I think the next example is more likely to be used by a much older texter, possibly an inmate of a nursing home, ‘ihtgttbwijd’ – I have to go to the bathroom, wait I just did.

I don’t know, life was so much simpler when I was young, as was going to the hairdresser, although some of the methods of achieving the style of the day, which at the time was a curly mane or ringlets, were tortuous to say the least. Pride suffers pain, my mother used to say, yanking my hair into sections then rolling it up in knobbly rags, which I was then forced to sleep on, or not as the case was more likely to be. I thought this barbaric custom had died out with the dark ages, but apparently not. There are many current websites containing references to the ragging of hair and there is even a You tube video you can watch. To save you the bother, if you fancy yourself with ringlets, although do take care if you are of a certain age as there is a danger of looking like ‘whatever happened to baby Jane’, here are the step by step directions copied from one enthusiastic ragger.

Preparation Work

“First you will need some rags which are strips of cloth, such as an old sheet, one of your husband’s old shirts, or even socks! To make your “rags” simple tear up the cloth evenly one inch by two inches. I have a supply of 40-50 of these strips handy at all times.”

All I can say is with that amount of rags it’s a wonder her husband has any shirts left, or socks for that matter, although to be frank, it’s a miracle she’s still got a husband if she goes to bed with forty to fifty socks rolled up on the top of her head.

“Now for the ragging,” she continues enthusiastically, “Ragging works best if you have wet hair, so wash your hair well, use leave-in conditioner and comb through hair. Now your hair is ready to be ragged, although it is best to rag your hair a few days before the event, as your hair may not be the way you planned.”

What does she mean by that, not the way you planned. That sounds a bit ominous to me. Maybe she forgot to add take the socks out.

Now You Are Ready

“Begin at the front of your head, take a strip of your hair and lay a rag, (or sock presumably) then roll up and tie in a knot, or secure with a bobby pin (bobby pin – never heard of one of those but I’ve heard of a bobbys helmet) or by tying off the rag strip with a nice bow. Repeat this all over your head. You can then blow it dry (or presumably get someone to do it for you) or sleep on it. Now you’re ready for a good night’s rest!”

Is she kidding?

“When you awaken in the morning and you are ready to style your hair, take it down out of the pins or rags. Your hair will be free of tangles and should have taken a very nice curl. ENJOY!!

Curls aloud as opposed to ‘Girls Aloud’

“You may have fun experimenting with how tight you roll your curls up. However, keep in mind, humidity does play a factor in how long you keep your curls. On the days that I am not sure of the humidity, I bring a nice barrette with me just in case I need to clip my hair back due to a loss of curl.”

That sounds a bit extreme not to mention against health and safety regulations, wrapping your hair round a sandwich or a bread roll.

“However, if you prefer body and waves over curls, roll your hair up in a tight bun and pin up on the top of your head, but not too high, or you’ll notice a crease in the front of your hair when you take it down in the morning!

You might also find a stray strip of salami or considering her reference to buns the odd maraschino cherry.

“As you can see, these clever curls are easy-to-do and can be very convenient towards preventing tangling and a sweaty neck in the summertime. Give it a try some weekend for something fun and a bit different to do! Happy Hair Days to You All!”

I think I’ll give it a miss, thanks all the same and risk having a sweaty neck – sounds disgusting. I think I’ll also give going to the hairdressers a miss in the future, in that way at least I’d be better off financially. Although there’s one good thing about it I suppose, at least you get to read all the current magazines, the ones you wouldn’t normally bother with, such as ‘Hello’ and the likes and within their glossy pages you can discover all kinds of things. For example, I had no idea there was such a thing as vibrating mascara, imagine the damage you could do with that.

As I left the salon that day after parting with all that dosh on my credit card, I was handed a huge carrier bag with some free samples lurking at the bottom and a couple of boiled sweets. I sucked the sweets on my way home by way of consolation and the next time I came to wash my hair, I routed around in the bottom of the bag and took the samples with me into the shower. I peered at the sachet marked shampoo with my misted over glasses – sensitive skin formula specially formulated to help relieve skin irritations, moisturise dry itchy skin and promote healing (there, I knew my hairdresser was on to me) although it would take more that a bit of oatmeal, aloe vera and sweet almond oil to heal what’s ailing me. However, I carefully followed the directions; massage into damp fur avoiding eyes and ears and work lather down to tail. Well, I know my hair is long and scruffy and at times hangs over my eyes, but what did she think I was, a golden Retriever, or worse a poodle. I read on, ‘towel dry then brush until coat is completely dry.’

It seems, as I found out after wiping my glasses on the towel, that the makers of the hair products my particular salon uses has come up with a new range especially designed for pets. What’s more, the new motto inscribed on their carrier bags is – giving back is the new black.

Well how about giving some money back instead, or at least some free samples not designed for canines? It’s a wonder she didn’t give me some flea powder for good measure.

The way things now stand in regard to my falling locks is this, although I am now considerably financially worse off, I  have the perfect camouflage for autumn and can blend in with my surroundings with ease with my branches exposed to the elements – not to mention my ears.

Forget Them Not

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My Dad William Alan Seed
My Dad William Alan Seed

ALAN – 1945  By Doreen Seed

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Today I travelled back in time

To all those years ago

I thought about those brave young men

And the spirit that there was back then

I thought of you the times you flew

Not knowing if you’d make it back

Facing all the German flack

I counted the planes as they flew out

You with your gallant crew

And then at dawn when they returned

I looked into the air

And prayed that you were there…………

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Barack Obama on HIV Testing

american-flag-3In the early days of his presidential campaign, which today resulted in his glorious victory, Barack Obama on a visit to Kenya publicly took an HIV test with his wife in order to lessen stigma. Obama and his wife, Michelle, entered the mobile lab and underwent HIV tests in an effort to reduce the public stigma associated with testing. He said the results were good news but the most important thing was the control that comes with knowing their HIV status.

`If a U S senator can get tested and his wife can get tested, then everybody in this crowd can get tested. Everybody in this city can get tested,” Obama said.

According to an article in the ‘Advocate’, at the time, Obama’s future plans would be to include increasing funding for HIV/AIDS research, care and prevention and developing a national strategy within the first year of his administration.

Let’s hope, unlike his predecessors he will not let the world down on this vital matter.   

Blackpool Rocks

Sand Mandala - Body Positive North West

Sand Mandala - Body Positive North West

There’s a famous seaside town called Blackpool
What’s famous for fresh air and fun
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with Albert their son……..
 
 
 
 
 
Well, my name’s not Ramsbottom, or any animal’s bottom for that matter and sadly, or gladly, depending on which way you want to look at it, neither am I a Mrs anything anymore – nor, and once again depending on which way you want to look at it (i.e. a tad sadly in my case) is there a current male bottom of any kind on the scene at the moment, mores the pity, or even on the distant horizon, Blackpool’s or otherwise.
 
And in regard to my own bottom, I’d much rather you didn’t look at it at all, if you don’t mind. Although, if I had to be named after any kind of bottom, I would rather it be after my own, thanks very much, even though it doesn’t amount to much these days due to the wasting properties of the meds, so lippobottom or even lesserbottom springs directly to mind. But please, although it may well be the case; never call me oldbottom, even if like some posh people you pronounce it both-hum, because it doesn’t sound right, unless you are asking two people to sing at the same time of course.
 
However, bottoms aside, as the actress said to the bishop, on two separate occasions recently I’ve had cause to visit that very same seaside town, what’s famous for fresh air and fun, where the air was certainly fresh (freezing in fact) and on both occasions fun was definitely had. Even though I didn’t bump into a single rams bottom, although I did manage to brush cheeks so to speak with quite a number of human bottoms, as despite the freezing severity of the night, a disproportionate amount of oversized bottoms were waddling around gazing in wonderment at the lights. But not a sight nor sound of young Albert with his stick with the horses head handle, who thanks to being eaten by a lion on his previous visit to Blackpool, was of course nowhere to be found.
 
I realise at this point that unless you are familiar with the actor and poet Stanley Holloway’s famous monologues, you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about, but I’m sure that regular readers of my blog will often have had cause to experience that same complaint. If you are indeed familiar with the highly comical monologue, ‘Albert and the Lion,’ you will see how it was cleverly adapted by me in relation to my two timing bar fly of an ex husband, although it has to be said, unlike Stanley Holloway’s version, he didn’t find it particularly amusing at the time, especially my comparison of him to the grumpy old lion Wallace as he lay growling in his cage; –
 
‘He lay in a som-no-lent posture with the side of ‘is face on the bar,’ which was a common enough occurrence and the favourite posture of my ex when he was enjoying a night out on the town. The same applies to his drunken dalliances with women of the night and one in particular called Alice; –
 
 ‘So straightway the blind drunken feller, not showin’ a morsel of fear, took ‘is prick with the ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle and stuck it in Alice’s ear.’

It’s no wonder, really, my ex no longer wants anything to do with me – and I have to agree that the feeling is entirely mutual.

On a far more serious note, my first visit to Blackpool had nothing whatsoever to do with sticks, not even of rock, or whores or horses heads handles, or my ex husband thankfully and more to do with spiritual matters. But unlike him and his fellow alcoholic counterparts the Ramsbottoms, not a drop of ale passed our lips, or even a freshly cut sandwich if there is such a thing to be found in Blackpool these days, although we did later enjoy a toasted teacake at a typical seafront cafe. Our excursion to Blackpool was to dismantle the sand mandala we had so painstaking and lovingly created over the course of several weekend mandala workshops at Body Positive with our resident Buddha Jan Mojsa of ‘Jandala’ fame and cast it back into the sea, from whence it came. This is to remind one of the impermanence of material possessions and of art, as great as those masterpieces may be (our beautiful mandala included) and indeed of life itself in the ongoing circle of creation.

We dutifully bought a bucket and spade from a sea front vendor in honour of the occasion and then ritualistically swept the now rain spattered mandala into the bright green bucket and solemnly walked it to the edge of the wave battered shore, where we stood for a moment and gazed in meditative contemplation at the pounding ugly brown rollers. Another ugly brown roller (and sorry but Boxers are hardly what you would describe as the prettiest of the canine species) in the form of Cath’s rather eccentric dog Lara, who was lolloping around in the muddy shallows and who had been present at several of our mandala workshops, therefore it was only fitting that she should be there, rushed barking madly (which is probably where the expression comes from) into the sea, trying to catch the sand in her slobbery chops as we each symbolically tossed a handful into the greedy churning rollers. I have to say it was a very moving moment, especially when Lara assumed a yogic pose, squatting directly at my feet, then politely shat on my shoe. This, although causing great hilarity to the other members of the group, was taken all in good stead by me, the owner of the shitty shoe, who saw it as yet another example of the mandala philosophy, as in what goes round comes round – or if one is having a particularly bad day, that life, after all and more often than not, especially if you have HIV, is full of shit – in more ways than one.

The second trip to Blackpool was an excursion on behalf of the hivine group, a support group I run in Blackburn for positive women, to see the lights or the illuminations as they’re called up here, for which my son Ben duly acted as chauffer.

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool
That’s noted for fresh air and fun
And me and tut girls fromt group th’ivine
Went there with young Ben my son

We left the car in a huge puddle on the windswept and desolate car park at Squire’s gate, or Stargate as Ben with his predilection for science fiction kept calling it and then boarded a tram, which transported us regally along the illuminated glory of the golden mile. Not that we could see anything out of the windows as they were all steamed up by the breath of shrieking children, who if their doting mothers and fathers had had anything about them, would have already been fed, like young Albert, to the lions. We got off at the tower and then walked, or should I say were blown along the prom, where in order to escape the biting wind we recklessly entered an amusement arcade and played on the slot machines, which was a bit like watching my new tefl actifry which I’d recently had cause to invest in, in an attempt at lowering my cholesterol without, heaven forefend, having to give up chips. It’s a brilliant invention I have to say and well worth the money; the chips taste just like real chips, even though they are cooked with only a teaspoon of olive oil and you can watch them slithering around and trying to mount each other or push each other out of the way to your heart’s content, just like one of those machines in the arcade we were wasting all our two penny coins on.

Arm in arm, we then braved the pier and watched people subjecting themselves to the ultimate in torture, as least as far as I was concerned, of being strapped in a row of seats, which defying gravity, were thrust upwards to almost touch the frozen starry sky and then swung from side to side and round and round like a sack of onions. Then finally, and because no trip to Blackpool would be complete without it, we indulged in the obligatory bag of fish and chips, although to be honest we cheated and had them served on a plate. This was followed by the fitting desert of huge bag of pink candy floss each as we hustled our way back along the prom. We did stop at one point at a stall to purchase some Blackpool rock, although I must say, in my day rock came in the shape of a stick and not in the shape of a man’s or a woman’s genitalia. I was quite shocked, I must admit, by the row after row of huge bright pink bosoms with cherry red nipples, all of varying shapes and sizes according to one’s preference presumably and the lines of red and black, hard or wobbly, men’s willies, once again presumably according to one’s preference – and there was even a complete version of a woman’s front bottom, a fluorescent fandango no less, which looked to my eyes and by its lurid colour, like it was suffering from some kind of STI.

And then, frozen to the bone, thankfully it was time to go home. Unlike the Ramsbottoms we declined the option of paying up to go in to the zoo, as for one reason it was closed and anyway, we’d already had plenty enough to laugh about, as th’ocean waves weren’t exactly small and piddlin, although by this time we were all desperate for one. It costs twenty pence by the way to go for a pee in Blackpool – daylight robbery I say. Anyway, for all my son is a veritable pain in my side at times, I didn’t relish the prospect of him being eaten by a lion, even though he wasn’t exactly dressed in his cap and his Sunday best, unless you count his favourite baggy jeans and his baseball cap, which thankfully he’d left at home. Had that of happened, I think like Albert’s mother I would have been most vexed and acted exactly like she did by exclaiming to the magistrate – “Wot, spend all mi life raisin’ children to feed ruddy lions? Not me!”

Although, on saying that, at times, as I’m sure any over stressed mother will verify, it sounds like not such a bad idea – and let’s be honest mums and dads, it would be far cheaper in the long run, with or without (as in the case of the Ramsbottoms) compensation.