Watch: Brave vicar reveals to congregation that she is HIV-positive
A Portsmouth reverend has revealed to her congregation that she is HIV-positive via a video.
Hayley Young, a Baptist vicar at the Hayling Island Baptist Church in Portsmouth, contracted HIV in 2013 after an attack.
She initially kept her diagnosis a secret – but after her antiretroviral drugs began to cause side-effects including hair loss, she decided to reveal her status.
Holding up a series of signs ‘Love Actually’ style, Reverend Young explains: “Hiya, I’m Rev’d Hayley. A lot of you know me.
“I was called into ministry at 21. I started working for HIBC in 2010 and was called to be Minister in 2011.
“But in 2013, after an attack, I was diagnosed with being HIV positive. No, I didn’t update my Facebook status or my Twitter feed!
“I told a few people. Some were amazing and supportive. Others were not. A few people said I was dangerous, I shouldn’t be near children, I was a risk.
“Seriously, do I look dangerous to you? OK, you might not want to cross me on a Friday night in Havant, but really?
“I kept smiling and joking because I’m your Pastor, I’m meant to be strong, I’m meant to have all the answers, but inside I was struggling. I knew God was there but he seemed so far away.
“I struggled with understanding and I didn’t think I was good enough, confident enough, intelligent enough, to cope.
“But, just as God promises, he carried me when I was unable to walk, HIV has made my body weak and vulnerable.
“I have been fighting infections and my body is getting used to the drugs that will help me. I’m scared of not being in control, no getting old, being judged, people’s perceptions of me.
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“But God tells me he is in control, he knows my future, he provides for me, he loves me.
“Sometimes I’m tired, I’m in pain, I get sick, I am weak and sometimes I fall over (the beer doesn’t help!)
“But, I know in all this there are blessings. I no longer have to worry about my hair going curly in the rain,
“Seriously, I know that I’m God’s masterpiece and he hasn’t finished with me yet. Having HIV doesn’t mean that I can’t have the quality of life that Jesus offers.
“In being this honest some people may judge me, walk away, not come near, because they think I’m a risk.
“It doesn’t bother me. I’m the same as I was before. Just a bit more positive.”