A patient living with HIV has shared his story and described how a doctor once ordered him to get out of the room.

John Burst (not his real name) was diagnosed August 1, 1987 when he was 42 years old. Mr Burst wanted to be tested for HIV as he was starting a new relationship.

His results for HIV were positive. Now 74, he has gone through various forms of treatment and was told more than six months ago he was no longer infectious.

Mr Burst said: “I wanted to be 200 percent sure I didn’t have HIV because I wanted to start a new relationship.

“When I found that I had I was face with two options. To either fall apart or see what I can do to survive.

“That is what I did. I took it on the chin.

Ealing Times:

A man described his experience of living with HIV since the age of 42. Photo: Pixabay

“I found an open-door establishment where people who were newly diagnosed could go and share their experience, what is was like for them and what they could do to fight it.

“At the time I was glad there was some place to go and talk about your diagnosis. But a lot of the people I met there died in the next couple of years.”

Mr Burst said he experienced stigma, when HIV emerged in the 1980s and witnessed it from medical professionals.

He added: “You didn’t let on you had HIV if you didn’t have to.

Ealing Times:

Cases of AIDS after HIV, data from ONE.

Ealing Times:

Cases of HIV diagnosis, data from ONE.

"My GP I had at first was a good one, but she had another doctor stand in for her one day and I saw him instead.

“That day I had a bad rash, I showed him and said I had HIV and he got up and cowered in the corner and told me to get out.

“I knew from other people they had a similar experience. I had no feelings for these people who reacted like that because we were humans still.”

Mr Burst had bad side effects as a result of his medication including skin rashes, diarrhoea and muscular dystrophy in his face.

Ealing Times:

Sexual Health Consultant Dr Gary Brook

Mr Burst told his story as London were set new targets for no new diagnosis for HIV cases in London by 2030.

Even today he believes a lot has changed such as the understanding of HIV and stigma that is associated with the virus.

He said: “Now everyone knows all you have to do is swallow a pill. When other medication became available, I went through most of them.

“Some had serious side effects and some mild. But you had to continue taking them as there was nothing else.

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Number of deaths, data from ONE.

“If you wanted to change medicine you had to have a new one waiting for you.

“One of the big problems was if you rejected the medicine, was there another one you could take?”

Mr Burst has been in and out of hospital throughout his life dealing with illnesses which can develop into pneumonia within a week.

Ealing Times:

Sexual health consultant for North West London Hospital Trust Gary Brook, 65, has been treating HIV patients when the virus emerged in the 1980s.

Dr Brook visited Nigeria in 1978 for medical training in infectious diseases and later Caribbean island Anguilla to study tropical medicine.

After more than two years he returned to the UK to specialise in infection and began looking after his first HIV patients in 1985.

Dr Brook said: “In the beginning we had to quickly adapt. In the 1980s there was no treatment or treatment of any substance.

“A couple of drugs came along in the late 80s and early 90s which prolong patient’s lives by two years, but the effective treatment didn’t come along until between 1994 and 1995.

“When I see patients with HIV I tell them I’m aware they may well die with HIV, but they are not going to die of HIV.

“Patients now go on to live a normal length of life as longs as they keep seeing their consultant and received treatment.”

Dr Brook said there were difficulties whilst treating patients in the beginning of the HIV and AIDs crisis as many of those infected were young.

He added: “It was hard to form a bond with patients naturally any ways but most of mine were young who would normally have 50 years of life to look forward to.

“But I knew for many of them they were only going to last days or weeks and not many of them more than a few years.

“It was tough going through that journey with them but as always human resilience shines through and life brightened despite the knowledge about their morality.”

Dr Brook said there are several misconceptions of the virus most common being that HIV and AIDs are the same and patients do not have a regular life span.

He said: “People believe if someone is HIV positive then they have aids. Aids in fact is the illness you develop when your immune system is really badly developed.

“HIV positive means you are carrying the infection. If you take treatment properly you can have a normal physical life.

“But we must not ignore the stigma that exists, and some patients are still not able to tell their friends and family.”

Dr Brook has looked after many patients including pregnant women with HIV.

He added: “I have had the privilege of looking after many women who are found to be HIV positive in pregnancy and I help them through the stress of diagnosis and concerns about baby infection.

“I have been around so long the babies I have look after in terms of virus prevention have now gone through University, started their jobs and are having a flourishing life.

“It is gratifying to see the parents and the pride they have in their children having achieved in a situation where they were so frightened, they were going to die, and their baby would be infected.

“There has been a lot of gratifying outcomes I have seen over the years.”

In London already 95 percent of people with HIV are diagnosed, 90 percent are on treatment and 97 percent with the virus “undetectable.”

Mr Brook thinks people in London will benefit from the new target as he said it will normalise HIV and reduce further stigma.

He said: “Other benefits will be people can get treatment as quickly as possible and in doing so get anybody with HIV on treatment to stop transmission.

“I think this ambition by 2030 is highly achievable at least in London. It is about getting knowledge out these and making HIV testing widely available.”