Since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Viral Disease, HIV has been relegated to the background and when HIV/AIDS comes up as a topic of casual discussion among people, questions that pop up include; do you know your status? When was the last time you checked? Is it necessary to even check? How about the cost? What are your options if you are positive?
Several NGOs have taken up the responsibility to fund any effort to combat this deadly virus. They provide test kits, special information guides, training of staff, provision of medications for management, and many more. Recently, I have attended some events where free screenings were organized for people. To my dismay, people tend to show less interest in patronizing the services.
The question that bothers me now is; if all these services are available for free and HIV/AIDS still lingers around, then who is responsible for fighting HIV?
With the level of technological advancement reached in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we only need active collaboration and participation from people from all walks of life in order to push the deadly virus back to wherever it came from but it is sad that we often overlook the need to get involved. Although HIV is now a long-term, manageable condition and not a death sentence, it is still a serious issue due to unwillingness of people to get tested. Some say it is better to die in their ignorance because of the stigma associated with it whiles others believe that nothing can be done if they find out that they are positive.
Now let’s ask ourselves this most important question; Are there any health benefits to getting tested early if you think you have HIV? Finding out early if you have HIV has two vital benefits. Firstly, you will be able to start treatment as soon as you need it, which makes it more effective in helping you live a long, healthy and active life. Secondly, if you know you have HIV, you can take the right steps to prevent passing it on to others by practicing safer sex and avoiding exchange of any used sharp objects with your loved ones. If even you are married and test positive, you can still have your babies; there are options available and steps you can take to ensure HIV is not passed on to your lovely partner during conception (if the partner is HIV negative) or to the unborn child.
For my brothers and sisters who think they are constantly exposed, you don’t need to wait for any required number of months before you take action. Your hope is called PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) which is a medical treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body. If you have put yourself at risk of HIV infection at whatever place or activity you got yourself into, you can go to any clinic, freely tell your physician the truth and they would usually prescribe a course of PEP drugs. You need to start PEP ideally within 24 hours of the risk occurring and no later than 72 hours. The longer you wait the less chance of PEP working.
It is enough that people are dying of HIV/AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance. Get tested today!!!