He has the devil who tricked in him. no definitive explanation for his current rude
health, but believes his determination to be “open” from the very first day of the disease while others crashed in the shadows have played its part.
Tom does not know if he keeps a survival record, but as an AIDS worker, he has not yet met anyone who has lived with the disease anymore.
He has been very open. He was the first and only person to face the cameras in the Birmingham Mail newspaper when World AIDS Day was presented for the first time in the city.
He once announced in a packaged public event: “My hope for the future is to be so proud of being HIV positive as I’m being a gay man.”
The proverbial poem could be heard drop .
The value of honesty has been hammered at home by death after death. The close circle that Tom socialized with is found in the columns of Memoriam. Some of them died in denial.
A friend was a hospital three months after the holiday with Tom. In the end, he refused to approve an HIV test, a test that would confirm the cause of his decline.
“I was really angry at him,” says Tom. “I was so angry for a long time. I lost a really beautiful friend who was so afraid he would rather die than being diagnosed as positive.”
“Perhaps I survived because I was not ashamed of it and they did,” the 71-year-old, from Kings Heath, actually adds.
“In the first five years, 99 percent of my group was dead. After so many funerals, you are developing Lazarus’s syndrome – you wonder why you are the only person here.”
These early years were a poisonous cocktail of fear and paranoia.
“In 1989 I went to Amsterdam with friends. On the last night I developed a lesion on my nose and just said I would not talk about it. Within three days it had passed. “
Tom Matthews on World AIDS Day at Millennium Point 2004 (Picture: Birmingham Post and Mail)
Tom’s carefree existence culminated in a conversation from an ex. He had been diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma, a skin cancer associated with HIV positive. Tom claimed to have to be tested.
These tests revealed The terrible truth: Tom dead from a disease that does not suffer dare to reveal publicly.
There was no medication to fight the virus, only brochures and helplines. He was unaware of disease and the near medieval superstition that surrounded AIDS.
“You think it will not be you,” says Tom. “Two years to live. I do not know why, but I accepted it.
“I was 19 years in a relationship and had two lovely dogs. We live in a world that thinks tomorrow will give you something bigger and better than today. I had to focus on today.
” It Pressure you go through when investigating your own mortality makes you realize life quality is more important than life expectancy. I do not want to be kept alive. To me, my quality of life is independent, with my dogs.
Tom Matthews in California 1990 (Image: Birmingham Mail)
“Quality of life is important. I do not want to be a prodigy and poked carcass.”
“Then, Sun and Daily Mirror scary AIDS stories on their face almost daily, full of scientific inaccuracies. Very volatile things. One MP said that AIDS, associated with gay men and drug addicts, provided a good service. “
Tom seized it deep prejudice by joining – and even forming – a splendid AIDS aid group aimed at erasing the thick catalog of misconceptions housed by the public and even members of the medical profession. They were needed.
When he worked for the West Midlands Health Authority as an AIDS project manager and tasked to distribute money to the disease-fighting district, Tom was informed by a very senior NHS boss: “We do not have gay men in our district – we do not have one theater! “
Tom, raised in Leeds, is a product category of a working class, without a nonsense family – his dad played for Bolton Wanderers. To inform them about his sexuality was difficult, confessing that his illness was tortured.
“Dad was a real man’s man,” Tom says, remembering the moment he came out of the closet. “His pleasure was football, fishing and gardening. I thought my stepmother would be good, but she was not.
Tom Matthews 1985 before joining HIV (Image: Birmingham Mail)
” She called me a pear and wanted me out of the house.
“But Dad was good. He did not understand, but he was good. Every time I visited, he gave me a hug, a very tactile man.”
They did not understand the ramifications of HIV positive either.
Tom moved to Birmingham in 1989 and worked with his partner in the new HIV sector. They were pioneers.
He has been a key actor in support groups such as Body Positive, ABplus and until recently president of charity Positive West Midlands. His story has helped thousands of people infected with HIV.
Tom is mostly a torch carrier for the first generation of gay men slaughtered by AIDS. Attitude has certainly played a part in his survival.
World Trade Day march in New Street, Birmingham 1996
Thirty years ago, the benefits of AZT – used to control cramps were discovered. Tom knew that miracle came at a cost.
“It made you very sick,” he says. “You can look like a poster for the third world. A friend in San Francisco was 100 milligrams five times a day. In Britain there were 1,500 milligrams each day.”
Tom insisted on the lower dose and stayed well as a medical advance followed by medical advances.
1996 tested 1592 – a new weapon in the war on AIDS – continued. It is now licensed. Kivexa, a pill that needs to be taken once a day, relieved Tom and other sufferers from the treadmill of tablets and treatment.
Poignantly he met the man who gave him the virus. He met him on his death bed, located in a hospital room filled with biological risks.
“He was in an oxygen tent,” remembers Tom. “They had hung their paintings around the room. A conversation was impossible, so I simply got into the oxygen bar itself.” The nurse was shocked. “
At a time when the world dismissed AIDS victims, Tom embraced them. That’s because he was one of them.
And he is extremely proud to still be one of them.
How Tom Met Freddie
Queen Alien Singer Freddie Mercury On The Stage In July 1985 (Image: Mirrorpix)
A Relationship With Someone In The Rock Queen of the Super Group, Tom met Freddie Mercury, perhaps the most high-profile AIDS accident,
Tom is sad that Freddie could not tell the world about the real cause of his ebbing’s health. Freddie’s fight with AIDS was only disclosed posthumously.
“I know he was an incredibly generous guy,” says Tom. “Every Christmas day he had an open house. I loved the fact that you could go to clubs like Heaven and he would be there.”
“The fact that nobody knew about the HIV case – and I mean nobody, not even close friends – is very sad. “