When the Reverend Hayley Young, a Hampshire-based vicar, contracted HIV after a non-sexual attack in 2013, she shared the news with just a handful of friends and family. She was concerned that by publicly announcing her HIV status she would alienate some of her congregation.
Explained on video
But when treatment for her condition lead to hair loss, it was difficult to ignore such a visible sign that something was different. Her solution was to create a video in which she explained what was going on via a series of hand-written signs.
“Hiya,” the first one begins. “I’m Rev’d Hayley. A lot of you know me…”
She then goes on to explain how she was called into the ministry at the age of 21, how the attack led to her being diagnosed as HIV-positive and how some people were not very supportive when she told them. They said that she might be a danger to children.
“OK, you might not want to cross me on a Friday night in Havant,” she jokes on the next sign, “but really?” Continues below.
Touching and heart-warming
Reminiscent of the scene in the film Love Actually in which a love-struck young man declares his affections for Keira Knightley’s character, the video has quickly become an internet hit, with people commenting on how touching and heart-warming it is.
People also like the way Hayley injects her warm personality into the message, as well as the video’s touches of humour. “I no longer have to worry about my hair going curly in the rain!” she jokes at one point.
Hair loss from HIV treatment
Hayley’s hair loss, while very visible, has played just a small part in her struggles, which have included fatigue, pain and weakness. While she doesn’t go into details about her treatment in the message, The Daily Telegraph states that she has described it as “trial and error,” and admitted that “one of [her] side effects is hair loss.”
“My hair started falling out one day,” the Reverend is quoted as saying. “But my body will eventually get used to the tablets and the side effects will wear off.”
This is certainly not uncommon – one study in Italy found that hair loss can occur as a side-effect of more than 300 known prescription, over the counter and illegal drugs.
The temporary conditions Telogen Effluvium and its more persistent form, Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Thinning, can both cause diffuse hair loss triggered by medication or following prolonged stress. In 2006 a report by The Cleveland Clinic Journal Of Medicine which found in 2006 that about seven per cent of people with HIV suffer from Chronic Telogen Effluvium. These conditions – which can both be treated – present as thinning hair all over the head and cause the hair to shed constantly rather than fall out in clumps.
Zidovudine, a drug used to treat HIV, has previously been linked to Alopecia Areata which causes patchy hair loss that can appear anywhere on the scalp. As she appears to have shaved her head, without examining her it is hard to diagnose her precise hair loss condition, however Hayley’s description of her hair fall is in-keeping with alopecia.
Dealing with Alopecia hair loss
Hair lost to Alopecia may regrow naturally. Alopecia occurs when the hair growth cycle is disrupted, causing follicles to lie in the dormant ‘Telogen’ phase of the cycle until they receive a signal from the body to resume production. As yet, there is no way of knowing when or if this will happen.
Should the Reverend decide that hair loss is one additional battle she doesn’t need, there is treatment for Alopecia Areata available, most notably topical applications of high strength minoxidil. Applying this to the affected areas twice daily may help to stimulate her follicles back into action.
A reputable hair loss specialist will be able to diagnose the cause and level of Hayley’s shedding, then work with her doctor or medical advisors where necessary, to provide a bespoke regrowth course.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.