Lieutenant Commander Oli Brown


Manage episode 318716569 series 2813344
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“I'm a Lieutenant Commander Serving in the Royal Navy, Serving a full, capable career. Oh, by the way, I have HIV.”

Oli found out by accident and his 2019 diagnosis came as a complete shock. His first 3 thoughts were:

What is my life going to be like?

When am I going to die?

And do I still have a job?

“I realised quite rapidly, I'm not going to die... and that's the simple fact of HIV for people in the UK today, I can do whatever I want and I put no one else at risk. The third one wasn't as straightforward as it should have been.” The answer finally came back as, “Yes, you can stay in, but you'll be medically limited deployable.”

Medically downgraded with anxiety and depression, Oli’s counselling from the Terrence Higgins Trust is helping him to come to terms with having HIV and he’s campaigning with them to reduce stigma, educate and shine a light on policy… getting the attention of No.10,

“…Defence announced that you can join the military and have no impact on being in the military, if you take PrEP (HIV medication) …and as of Spring this year, when it comes to living with HIV and joining with HIV in the military, those restrictions will be lifted.”

Medical knowledge has come a long way since the campaigns of the 1980s as dramatised recently on TV in ‘It’s A Sin’. People can now live full lives with HIV, “I take one tablet a day … and I cannot physically pass HIV on to anyone.”

Oli’s December 2021 post on LinkedIn went viral with 2.6 million views,

“I felt that no one else should feel as alone and isolated as I did. I can't be the only person in the military with HIV. Well, where are they?”
It starts with me - National HIV testing week
Hosted by Steve Bomford and Mike Davis-Marks.
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This podcast is supported by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

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