PEOPLE DO STUPID THINGS, THAT’S WHAT SPREADS HIV – Part 1

This was a headline in a UK based newspaper, The Gaurdian, a while ago published by Elizabeth Pisani. Someone I look up to for her work in the field of HIV. Elziabeth is a journalist and an epidemiologist best known for her work on HIV/AIDS,in particular for her controversial book The Wisdom of Whores. A must read.

I’m curious with Elizabeth, Who agrees with this statement?

Elizabeth Pisani argues and I agree with her, that this statement is half true.

People do get HIV, because they do stupid things, but people do stupid things for perfectly rational reasons.

The General Opinion is:

  • If you give people the information they need about whats good for them and whats bad for their health and you
  • Give them the services that they need to act on the information and
  • A little bit of motivation, then people will make rational decisions and live long and healthy lives without getting infected with HIV. Right?

This is slightly problematic for me because I have been living with HIV and work in the field of HIV.

We all hear that HIV is about about Poverty and Gender inequality.

But the Face of HIV  & AIDS is White, it’s Black, Rich & Poor & Gay & Straight, Young and Old, it’s Educated and Uneducated people. It has affected and infected every aspect of our society.

But,actually it’s about sex and drugs.

This brings me to the beginning of my journey living with HIV: I’ts been 15 years since I was diagnosed with HIV.

2002 was a perfect storm of bad timing for me.

At the time when I got infected, I was 22, my mother passed away in a tragic accident. my first long term relationship had come to an end. Still young and very naive and trying to deal with the emotions of loss, I went out one night with a friend, got drunk, jumped into bed and had unprotected sex.

Not thinking that there would be any consequences and I use to think that “ HIV is something that happens only to other people”

6 Months later, a work colleage of mine had unprotected sex with someone and she wanted to get tested. She was petrified  to get tested like most of us are.

To show support, I offered to go get tested with her, thinking that I had nothing to worry about.

In those days you had to wait 1 week before getting your results, the longest week of your life.

It turned out that she tested negative and “Oh Dear “ There It Was” I got the call to go see the doctor. I remember the doctor said ” Charlie, we have good news and we bad news” And I am thinking……there is is good news in this equation?

The good news was, that my CD4 count was still high enough and I didn’t have to start treatment immediately ( those days they didn’t start you on treatment immediately), the bad news was that I tested Positive for HIV. The rest of the conversation is still a blank till today.

Today I suggest to start treatment as soon as possible.Our own South African Government started with the treatment campaign in Sept 2016 “ Test and Treat”. If you test positive, you start treatment immediately. So if you don’t have medical aid, you can get your treatment for free at the goverment clinics.

This brings me to a myth that “Only people that are promiscuous, gets infected”

In the ideal world we would like to believe that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, but that is unfortunately not the case.

The real truth is that it only takes one night, having unprotected sex with an HIV positive person to possibly get infected.

This brings me to another belief, that people who tests positive for HIV somehow deserves it and I am sure that there are still people in this world that believes this.

We are human beings people, having sex is part of our “Human Nature”

HIV is and can not be a punishment for having sex.

In my experience I have met more people that never had sex before, they fall in love and the moment they trust someone and have sex for the first time,unprotected….they get infected and yet I have met so many people that have multiple sex partners and never gets infected.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t take away the fact that it is more risky to have sex with multiple partners and I am not suggesting that we all go out tonight and have sex with as many people as possible.

The reality is that it can happen to anyone at any given time.HIV does not discriminate whom it infects, yet we as human beings do !!!!!!!!!

To be continued……

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