A Scottish comedian who has just had a successful run at the Edinburgh festival has thanked the NHS staff who helped him following his HIV diagnosis.
Scott Agnew, who was diagnosed two years ago has praised the work of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Brownlee Centre, who he said “put him back together when he was in a very dark place.”
Scott said: “Without their help I might have fallen through the cracks. It’s scary to think what would have happened if they had not helped me.”
Two years ago, following his diagnosis, Scott said he hit rock bottom.
“I wasn’t working, I had drug and mental health issues, I had lived in ten different places in ten years. The team at the Brownlee, as well as the Terrence Higgins Trust put me back on my feet. Now, just two years on I have a tenancy, I am back working and have just had a successful run at the Edinburgh festival. I am something approaching a normal human being again.
“They don’t just look after you physically, they really care and look after all aspects of your life. They helped me build my career back up and I’ve even been able to put together a show about being HIV positive.
“There really is something special here. One nurse brought me in a bag of her brother’s clothes which he didn’t need any more – it’s the personal touches like that. There is a proper friendly, family atmosphere. You feel cared for, not just treated.
“As far as my treatment goes I only take one tablet a day and that keeps my viral load down; it’s undetectable. There is a lot of ignorance around HIV; people don’t know how far things have advanced. It’s no longer a death sentence and the public don’t know that. I will live as long as anyone else.
“HIV is now a manageable disease like diabetes.”
Scott spends a lot of time educating young people about HIV and staying safe.
He said: “HIV is a bit of a mystery for young people now. They didn’t grow up in the 1980s and 90s so have no stigma to bring to the table. I tell them it’s so important to take precautions, but there is a life for me after HIV.
“I never encounter stigma here at the Brownlee. These people are second to none and I am still here because of them.”
Dr Roger Wong, the Centre’s Clinical Coordinator/Psychiatrist at the Bownlee said: “It is so important to care for the whole person, to identify all the problems that affect them, to try to meet all their needs whether medical, financial, emotional or social. Prescribing antiretroviral medication is only a small part of providing effective care for people living with HIV.”