I met Harry when I was interning with HALC late last year. My first task on Harry’s file was to get up to speed with why he was being assisted by HALC.
Harry was always up for chat. In between talking about his legal matters he showed his passion for the law and politics, in particular the origins of the Magna Carta and the development of Australia’s democratic system. Harry was passionate, fearless and very engaging.
Harry had been diagnosed with HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND) which is where HIV enters the nervous system and impacts the health of nerve cells. It can affect memory, cognition and mood. HAND is not very common but it does come by HALC from time to time. You couldn’t tell Harry had HAND by just looking at him and it sometimes affected the way he acted.
Harry’s HAND meant that he sometimes was misunderstood when he had an outburst. Harry came to HALC when his clinic had refused to keep treating him. Harry was also getting evicted by his housing provider due to his behaviour caused by HAND.
What was most stark about Harry’s situation was that HALC were the only ones who seemed to understand Harry. Harry had a voice, but in this case HALC had to intervene to ensure that Harry’s service providers listened to that voice. Without HALC, I believe that Harry may have been left behind trying to find a doctor and a new place to live. HALC understood Harry when his medical and housing support staff did not. Harry trusted his service providers who denied him access when he needed it most.
HALC saw Harry was a person first. It took intervention by HALC to link him with medical and social services, broker the continuance of HIV treatment and care and intervention at the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal to fight his eviction and prevent homelessness.
Even though I am no longer am interning at HALC I often think of Harry and I hope he still just as passionate about the Magna Carta and a fearless defender of our democratic political processes.
Sharna Quigley continues to help people living with HIV through her work at #QueenslandPositivePeople #QPP as the Stigma & Discrimination Officer
*names of clients have been changed to respect and protect their confidentiality
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