After Mma left, I sat thinking. It all started coming back to me. It must have been like eighteen months ago or more that Mma and her children had come to register at the surgery having recently moved into the area from Africa.

positive steps

She had told me then that they had come overseas due to her husband’s job. He  worked with one of the oil companies, she said, and he had been posted abroad for four years.

She was a linguist with excellent command of Chinese and German and was hoping to get a job teaching these in one of the academies. A very pleasant woman, I recall thinking.

Her children were aged twenty-two, twenty and seventeen. The first had been due to get married in a few weeks.

Dike came to register almost six weeks after his family came. He had only come because his boss had insisted he needed to be registered with a surgery while in the UK. A complete waste of time, he told me.

He fidgeted while I went through my new patient’s routine. I was used to men feeling that coming to see the doctor was unnecessary.

Blood pressure check. Height check. Weight – a little overweight but nothing that a bit of exercise wouldn’t shift.

“Do you smoke?”

“Just when I am out in the rigs.”

“How many a day?”

“Ten sticks a day.”

“Have you ever considered  stopping?”

“Maybe one day,” he glanced at his wristwatch. “Are we done now?'”

“Almost. I would like to offer you testing for blood borne viruses like HIV,  Hepatitis B and C.”

“Why?” he asked surprised.

Would you have HIV and Hepatitis tests even if you believe you are not at risk??

10 Responses

  1. Even though I am not at risk, I take the tests from time to time. I just took the last one six weeks ago. call me crazy but I love the renewed peace of mind I get on receiving the results. I trust my husband completely, but as has been highlighted on this blog, people can get infected in a myriad of ways.

  2. |Even if I am not at risk, I will take the tests. In fact I have just taken them in the last 4 weeks. I like the renewed piece of mind I get after each result. I trust my husband completely, but as highlighted here, one can be infected in a myriad of ways.

  3. To be honest, if i believe i dont have HIV and Hepatitis, then i will not be willing to have the tests. Taking the tests brings its own high blood pressure Just waiting for the results can freak you out, even though you know it will be negative. So i would not recommend hastiness in agreeing to take these tests. Human body can be funny – someone can be very healthy till they’re told they have a sickness…then they start actually feeling sick! So in such cases, to know or not to know….that is the question!

    1. Hi Jetmum, thanks for writing in and I believe you spoke the mind of many people.
      I completely understand where you are coming from.

      Its human to be anxious about these things but think of how one will feel if one discovered much later when its too late and nothing much can be done.
      Whereas if they had known earlier, they would have benefitted from treatment.

      I think we all owe it to ourselves to KNOW our status…..

  4. Hi Omorewo, thanks for writing in. I do not have specific figures but up to 90% of HIV infection worldwide is transmitted by sexual intercourse.

    In Africa, transmission is mainly by heterosexual intercourse while in UK for example, new diagnosis of HIV is more likely in men sleeping with men(MSM).

    In Africa, infected mothers passing HIV to their babies either in the womb, at the time of delivery or through breastfeeding account for a significant number of cases. Poorly screened blood is also an important factor in Africa.

    You can get more details here

    1. You are right…the fear of the virus also keeps people away from testing. But if one is in a place where they will get access to treatment and support, I really think it’s so important to KNOW one’s status. You cant benefit from treatment if you don’t get tested………..

  5. I think it is important to know your status even if you believe you’re not at risk. The reason why people frown at getting tested might be because they believe only promiscuous people get infected by the virus. Another reason could be the fear of having the virus. Dr. could you please give the statistics of the various ways people have been infected in some African countries and in the western countries.

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