Fernando Monteiro was born in 1969 in Luanda, Angola, where he lived till the age of six. In 1976, Fernando and his family fled war-torn Angola and relocated to Portugal, where they lived for six months before migrating to Brazil. In 1982, Fernando and his family returned to Portugal, settling down in Lisbon.
In 1991, after a trip to A&E due to a dramatic presentation of Shingles, Fernando received his HIV diagnosis at the age of twenty-two. At his first doctor’s appointment he was offered AZT, the first drug approved to treat HIV. He feared dying young, like so many gay men did, Fernando decided to follow his consultant’s advice and live his life to the full.
In 1996, Fernando arrived in London with a suitcase full of dreams and the resolve to study film. He transferred his care to a London clinic and remained compliant with his treatment. But HIV treatment wasn’t effective as it is today and in 1999, while completing an Access Course to Media Studies, Fernando was diagnosed with AIDS. Ever so hopeful, he believed that treatment would improve and help him pull through.
In 2005 the right antiretroviral combination came along and helped him regain his full health. In 2023, thirty-two years after his diagnosis, Fernando carries on trusting medicine and through his work, as a HIV activist and a Peer Support Worker, inspire others to seek purpose and meaning after their HIV diagnosis.