Svona fólk – Plágan or People Like That – The Plague, documentary about the HIV epidemic in Iceland will be shown at cinema Bíó Paradis this Sunday, as a part of Reykjavík Pride 2019. Donni Gíslason is one of the people who tells his story in the film. Donni tested HIV-positive in 1985, when he was 25 years old, and ten years later his immune system had collapsed, he was losing his eyesight and the doctors told him he had, at most, three months to live. Then a miracle happened.

Donni Gíslason today.

New HIV drugs arrived and after a bit of a struggle Donni was put on a medication cocktail that saved his life. His vision is still impaired but the HIV virus is no longer detectable in his blood. How does it feel to be given a new lease on life after a death sentence?

When Donni tested positive for HIV back in 1985 there was a lot of prejudice and fear for AIDS in society and he says some people treated him like he was radioactive.
“It was a a huge stigma,” he says. “There was a lot of fear and uncertainity regarding AIDS in that time, as it was a new disease and nobody really knew for sure how it got transmitted and how it would evolve.
I am lucky enough to have a very supportive and understanding family and they all supported me as best they could. The information people got about the disease and the risk of getting it was very misleading at that time, people thought they had to take all kinds of precautions to be able to avoid getting infected from someone who had tested positive for HIV. It was a bit mental.”

“Other gays treated me like I was radioactive and didn’t want to go anywhere near me.”

Donni says that when people talk about these times now it is sometimes forgotten that other gays also regarded HIV as a stigma and much fear governed the gay community.
“Other gays treated me like I was radioactive and didn’t want to go anywhere near me. Some would even take the stand of warning others about who might possibly be infected of the PLAGUE as some liked to call it, be it true or just plain gossip. That was a shock for many of us and it hurt deeply and it shattered to a degree our small gay community at some point,” he says. “But my real friends stuck by me and I did not lose any of them, I’m grateful for that.”

Never believed he was dying

Getting diagnosed with the HIV virus was in that time a death sentence, there was no cure and even the doctors did not know much about the disease. Donni says that inspite of that he never really believed that he was going to die.
“Somehow I managed to cling to hope through this all,” he says. “I did not have any symptoms for years, even though the virus vas detected in my blood, but I never felt that I was ill. It was not until almost ten years after the diagnose that I started to lose my health.”

One of the consequences of the disease was that ten years after the diagnose Donni started to lose his eyesight as a result of his immune system collapsing.
“In 1995, eight months before the first HIV drugs were made available, I went in to the stage of full blown AIDS,” he explains. “When they became available in Iceland my doctor did not want me to have them as I was too far gone with the disease. It was thanks to another doctor, Anna Þórisdóttir who had specialised in the disease, that I was allowed to try the new drugs even though I was considered an incurable case.”

At that stage Donni and his family were prepared for him passing away in a few weeks, but he says it never felt real to him that he was dying.
“The immune system had totally collapsed, I was down to 55 kilos, the family had been summoned to a meeting with the doctors to hear the death sentence, but as weirdly as it sounds I never really believed it deep down.

“It was a fantastic feeling. But it also felt unreal and for a while I went into a crisis not knowing what I was supposed to do with this new life.”

I paid lip service to the doctors and sociologists who were telling me this, but I never felt that I was really dying. I had gone for all kinds of holistic medicines, drank a lot of herbal concoctions and tried everything I possibly could think of to counteract the disease. I had all the medical attention and stuff in my home for the last six months of this period and when my family went to the hospital to discuss my death I stayed at home and painted the kitchen walls.

I just found the thought of dying absurd, even though I had already said goodbye to a lot of my friends who had died from the disease. Looking back it feels as I was in somekind of bubble where the reality of it did not reach me.”

A new lease on life

Donni says that he has always been a fighter and he just was not ready to lose the fight with death. Even his deterioating eyesight did not put him off the fighting track.

“When my immune system had collapsed completely, I was told I had two T-cells in my body at the time instead of the 6-800 T-cells you have when you are fully healthy well, but I told the doctor that I visualized these two T-cells working out at the Gym and they would conquere in the end. The most serious effect of this collapse of the immune system was that a virus which is called CMV, which a lot of people have in their bodies but is not doing you any harm if you are healthy, started attacking my eyesight which was a known side effect of AIDS. The doctors tried to put me on medication for that, I had to get liquid drug in my veins for four hours every day to try to keep my eyesight. The thing is, and it was probably an oversight by the doctors not to realise it at the time, that when I started to get the drug cocktail for the AIDS they kept giving me this drug for my eyes, which I was told years later was a mistake and that part of the reason I am visually impaired was caused by the counteraction of these different drugs. I don’t blame anyone for this, it was all such a new territory for the doctors that they could not have known.”

The recovery was quick, a year after the treatment with the new drugs started Donni was fit enough to start travelling and start life a new. How was the feeling to be able to do all the things he had stopped being able to do and no longer have death hanging over his head?
“It was a fantastic feeling,” Donni says. “But it also felt unreal and for a while I went into a crisis not knowing what I was supposed to do with this new life. I also experienced survivor guilt; why was I given a new lease on life when so many of my friends had died? It is a known syndrome with survivors, both from diseases and wars, and it was a very profound experience to go through. It was not until I went for a visit to my friends in the States for two months that I could get rid of the guilt. I met a lot of people who had been diagnosed, went to meetings at AIDS organisations and got a better feeling for how it had effected people. It was really liberating to see the whole picture of how the disease had evolved, not just the Icelandic side of it.”

Dedicated single

Donnis eyesight continued getting worse even though he got better from the disease and ten years later he was declared legally blind, which is defined as sight below 10%. He says that of course did limit his choices of education and jobs, but that he has never let that handicap stop him.

“I studied to become a counselor for blind people and that is my job today,” he explains. “I am a recovering alcholic and have been for twenty years now, and the support and self work I have gone through to get sober has helped me enourmously, both while I was sick and when I started getting better. So I have experienced it myself how important it is to have good counselors when you are battling some kind of difficulty.”

Donni is one of the people interviewed in Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir´s  documentary series Svona fólk or People Like That, a part of the project titled Svona fólk – Plágan will be shown at cinema Bíó Paradis this Pride and even though he is very open about his experience of the disease and recovery he admits that one question the film maker asked him on camera made him somehow uncomfortable.

The second part of the documentary Svona fólk will be shown at Bíó Paradís during Reykjavík Pride.

“She asked me if it had affected my love live to have been an AIDS patient and must admit it caught me little off guard, how does one answer that?” he says. “After she left I started wondering if it had made me more of a loner, but I’m not sure. I have thought about it, of course, but I have always been a loner in that sense even though I’m very social, and I don’t think that has gotten worse by the disease. I find it harder to connect to people as I get older, I’m a homebody and very happy in my own company. I never understood this pressure from society that everyone should be in a relationship. I don’t think that suits everyone. The longest relationship I have been in was when I was HIV positive and it lasted for ten years, so I don’t think the diagnose made me afraid of love. I have a very good life today, I like my work, have a wonderful family and friends and I don´t really feel any need for a close relationship. That has nothing to do with being an AIDS survivor, it’s just who I am.”

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us

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