HIV pos­i­tive

Brave fun­ny­man out to bust myths about dis­ease

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Edel Ke­nealy

A Ruther­glen co­me­dian has re­vealed he is HIV pos­i­tive.

Scott Agnew is per­form­ing at the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val and found out the news last year.

He is cur­rently tak­ing one pill a day and hopes to change the stereo­types sur­round­ing the con­di­tion.

Ruther­glen co­me­dian Scott Agnew has re­vealed he is HIV pos­i­tive.

The fun­ny­man, who is cur­rently per­form­ing at the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val, found out the news last year, and is cur­rently tak­ing one pill a day for treat­ment.

He is hop­ing that by talk­ing about the sub­ject he can change some of the stereo­types and stig­mas that sur­round the con­di­tion.

He told the Re­former: “It’s cer­tainly not a death sen­tence – my con­sul­tant ac­tu­ally said that I’ve prob­a­bly in­creased my life ex­pectancy be­cause men in the West of Scot­land don’t see their doc­tors enough and now I’ll be tested reg­u­larly be­cause of this!

“The ad­vances in medicine have been un­real. I take one tablet a day and that’s it, other than try­ing to get a bit fit­ter than you would be nor­mally.

“The day I was told it hit me like a train­wreck. Usu­ally you get your test re­sult over the phone, and as soon as they say ‘oh, we’d like you to come in to see us’ then you know some­thing’s wrong and you have to co­erce them to say some­thing more over the phone.”

Ear­lier this year Scott spoke to the Re­former about his on­go­ing strug­gles with de­pres­sion, and thoughts of sui­cide.

While the HIV di­ag­no­sis ini­tially caused him to go into a tail­spin, it has since had the ef­fect of mak­ing the co­me­dian look af­ter him­self more.

He said: “You have to think about how you live your life and what you do. For some­one who’s thought about killing him­self, it’s strange when you put a bit of value in your life and start think­ing that you still want to be here.

“When you’re con­stantly think­ing of ways to kill your­self, then you have zero re­gard for your own life. I had been reck­less sex­u­ally, but I was al­ways be­ing reg­u­larly tested, since I was 18. You’re tested ev­ery month, you’re com­ing back neg­a­tive and you start to get an in­vin­ci­bil­ity com­plex, even when you’ve been reck­less – you feel like Boris in Gold­enEye (the James Bond film) go­ing ‘I am in­vin­ci­ble!’

“Oddly, I then con­tracted HIV when I wasn’t be­ing promiscuous, and that blind­sided me a bit.”

Scott has been given strong sup­port by his fam­ily, and by the Ter­rence Hig­gins Trust af­ter he dis­cov­ered he had HIV.

He added: “My sis­ter gave me a slap, which was fair enough, then she gave me a hug. My mother was fine about it, and even my grand­fa­ther, who’s 88, was fine – I wasn’t in­tend­ing to tell him but the way things pro­gressed I thought I should say to him.

“He was quite quiet about it, then phoned me the next day. He said ‘it’s just one pill you’re tak­ing? I’m on about eight or nine a day – did you bring me out to the house to say there’s noth­ing re­ally wrong with you!’”

In 2014, an es­ti­mated 103,700 peo­ple in the UK were liv­ing with HIV, 17 per cent of whom were un­aware of their in­fec­tion.

The co­me­dian is cur­rently per­form­ing I’ve Snapped My Banjo String, We Need To Talk, at the Gilded Bal­loon in Ed­in­burgh un­til Au­gust 29.

More in­for­ma­tion on the work of the Ter­rence Hig­gins Trust char­ity can be found at www.tht.org.uk

My sis­ter gave me a slap, which was fair enough, then she gave me a hug Scott Agnew

Brave Scott has spo­ken out in a bid to tackle the stigma sur­round­ing HIV

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