- Others Could be More Devastated than You
If you are observant, you have realized there is a gaping hole that threatens to crumble and sink this story into abyss. How was I infected? Well, just the normal way. Unprotected sex. In case you were expecting a flow chart diagram to help solve that mystery, sorry to disappoint you. I can actually pinpoint the exact day I was infected in September 2013. Since tonsillitis appears about a fortnight after the infection, I knew the girl I was with. After I tested, I called her up. She thought it was a joke. Just two weeks earlier I had sent her one of those ridiculous messages that youngsters everywhere send asking her what she would do if I had H.I.V. So when I told her I am positive, she thought it was a continuation of the previous joke. But then she noted my tone was serious.
At first, she was in total denial. By that time, they had moved from Nakuru to Bungoma. Immediately, she set out to come to Nakuru to commiserate with me. We spent the whole of that night talking. She was completely devastated. So much that I took the blame for infecting her while in fact it was she who infected me. I later did confirm that she got it from her previous boyfriend. At first, she did not want to get tested. After all, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But I managed to convince her and she confirmed she was positive. That exacerbated her devastation and she slipped into depression. I didn’t hear from her until after about a month. In December of that year, she abandoned taking medicine altogether, and didn’t resume until May the next year. We still talk even now, but I doubt she follows up on her ARV therapy.
By far, mum was the most devastated by my being positive. When my dad passed on in early 2000s, my mum was grief stricken as we all were. But I never saw mum so devastated as she was on the day she knew I was H.I.V positive. That really chills my heart.
- Someone Could Infect You Deliberately
Still, some people have it worse than others. What is worse than getting H.I.V? Getting super H.I.V. There are two strains of H.I.V . H.I.V 1 and H.I.V 2. In East Africa, the former is more prevalent, while the latter is almost exclusive to West Africa. The difference is that H.I.V 1 is more aggressive. It possible for one person to get the two strains. I know a friend from around KU who has both strains but refuses to use protection because after you get two H.I.V strains, what other lemons can life throw at you? Turns, it can transpose the spelling of lemons and hurl melons at you. Is melonade a thing? After you are infected, you can still be re-infected with a sub-strain of your strain if you have unprotected sex with another infected person. What did I just say? Let me explain using an example. If you have unprotected sleep with someone who is not infected and you infect them with the virus it will react differently from the way it reacted in your body and form another sub-strain. The next time you sleep with them, you get re-infected with another substrain of your former virus. All this does is to complicate your treatment.
After I knew my status, I started knowing a lot of infected people. Remember that best friend of mum’s? She was positive too. Due to my openness, I am meet more people who are positive. But if you are negative, there is no way of knowing the status of your potential date. Some times, I might meet a potential mate and upon disclosing my status, she says ‘me too.’ Wow.
H.I.V can be a burden. You are faced with rejection and stigma from many places, but I prefer to take courage from a line I learned watching the Game of Thrones movie series, “Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget who you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like an armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
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Paul Njuru is a resident contributor and the editor at Rasqoh.com