A MINISTER who revealed to her congregation she has HIV through a YouTube video says she is humbled by their supportive response.
Hayley Young contracted the disease following an attack in 2013.
The 28-year-old began to feel unwell and suffered flu-like symptoms before being diagnosed that same year.
The strong anti-viral drugs she takes led to side effects, including hair loss.
So, earlier this month, following questions from her congregation at Hayling Island Baptist Church she decided to take the brave step of making a video and showing it during a service.
It shows her standing holding up card with heartfelt, sometimes darkly humourous, messages written on them, recounting how she found out her diagnosis and how she feels about it.
There is a stigma attached and, thankfully, the church has shown itself to be a really inclusive communityHayley Young
Hayley, who is originally from Portsmouth, said: ‘I was shocked when I was diagnosed but I knew that with treatment it wasn’t the end of the world.
‘Obviously I told those close to me but, because of the stigma attached, it was not something I wanted to broadcast.’
Hayley’s congregation knew that she was unwell.
The strong side effects include sickness and tiredness.
She added: ‘The medication is trial and error.
‘One is that my hair started falling out.
‘But my body will eventually get used to the tablets and the side effects will wear off.
‘People had begun to ask questions so, at the start of the month, I decided to tell the church.
‘They have been overwhelmingly supportive.
‘It made me feel very humble.
‘Lots of people live with HIV – it’s a perfectly liveable disease – it’s just the prejudice.
‘There is a stigma attached and, thankfully, the church has shown itself to be an inclusive community.’
In the video Hayley addresses the prejudice she has faced to an acoustic backing track called Never Let Go by Matt Redman.
In it, she addresses her fears and how her faith has helped her through.
It includes the poignant line: ‘Some said I was dangerous, I should not be near children, I was a risk.
‘Seriously, do I look dangerous to you?
‘It doesn’t bother me. I’m the same as I was before, just a bit more positive.’
Parishoners, including Alan Griffiths, said: ‘Rev Hayley is surely the most extraordinary, courageous person it has been my priviledge to know. The reckless actions of others and illness may have weakened the body but you are surely anointed and blessed by God, and continue to be a blessing to all those who know and love you’.
And Nicky Howard said: ‘You are Hayley.... Our Hayley, we respect, love and admire you the same as we always have done xxx.’