If you would like to hear more, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter here
Uses only a finger prick of blood.
Cost only $34 to manufacture.
Small enough to fit into one hand
Does not rely on laboratory facilities.
Gets its energy supply from the phone so can be used in remote places
Being able to find out if you have caught something quickly reduces the risk of spreading it to other people.
So it is an exciting development in the fight against HIV, particularly in African countries where mother to child transmission of HIV (amongst other routes) remains a major concern with over 2 million children infected with HIV while in the womb, during birth, or by being breastfed.
The next step is for the antiretroviral medications (used to treat HIV) to be so readily available in developing countries as well.
Otherwise, what is the point of fast, easy and cheap diagnosis if there isn’t corresponding available and cheap medication to treat those diagnosed with HIV in poor communities?
Dr Adaeze Ifezulike is a Family Physician/GP based in Aberdeen. She is a Finalist at the UK Sexual Health Awards 2015 and for her book ‘Understanding Contraception: A guide for black ladies’ she has been nominated ‘Author of the Year’ at the Women4Africa Awards.
Dike looked up finally.
“I couldn’t tell her. She will be furious to learn I have been with other women.”
”We are talking about a serious infection, Dike. If she doesn’t get tested, she cannot benefit from treatment if she needs it. If she is tested and she is negative, then she can protect herself and not have to get HIV as well.”
”I can’t” he said with a note of finality.
I felt myself getting angry. How selfish! All he could worry about was losing face before his wife.
”But what of her health?” I demanded.
He picked up his keys off the table – his usual way of signalling that he was finished with me.
— Myles Edwards (@MylesEdwards) May 14, 2014
I love weddings, they are so exciting! I always see it as a new beginning for the people involved. It’s an opportunity to celebrate a great life together. It’s a chance to have an amazing adventure with your friend (hopefully you are marrying a friend!)
However before you get to the wedding night, there are 10 sexual health checks you need to do. These are really important and can help to make sexual intimacy a bed of roses for you rather than cause unlimited problems. 1. Forget your past experiences! I cannot emphasise this enough. Whether you’ve had sex in the past or not, this is a new start! It’s time to forget your past and reach out for the future. The past experiences, especially the negative ones, can have the power to destroy the new heaven ahead of you. So it’s really important to forget the past and determine to enjoy the glorious sweetness ahead of you. You may have had nasty experiences like rape in the past. Well it’s time to dust yourself down and determine that that won’t destroy your future. You need to decide that from now on, you are going to have an excellent sexual life. You may have shared sexual intimacy with people who didn’t value you, who were just interested in what was in it for themselves. Forget them! Do not let your past experiences mar the beauty of what is to come. Sexual intimacy can be beautiful and satisfying but the last thing you need is a head and heart full of bad memories. So if you have had nasty experiences in the past, leave them there. Your marriage is a new beginning. It can be difficult to do this and some people may find they require counselling. In this case, get some counselling before you go into marriage. Go and speak to a trained counsellor and get help with facing up to your past experiences. They do not need to have a hold over you anymore. I strongly encourage young people to avoid sexual intimacy till they are married, if possible. I know this message is not for everyone but for those who would listen, it’s really best to avoid unnecessary baggage. The last thing you want is to be making love with your spouse and be thinking ‘he doesn’t quite measure up to Jide or Samson’. Ladies, you don’t want your spouse thinking, ‘she doesn’t quite do it like Elizabeth Taylor or the girl down at the store.’ It’s best you discover each other as you are and go from there. That way, sexual intimacy can be like a treasure chest.You are discovering each other without the added complication of previous experiences.
But if you’ve had previous experiences, then try to put them aside and enjoy what you have before you. A lot of dissatisfaction in marriage stems from current spouses not living up to what one may have experienced in the past. 2. Talk about contraception. This is very important. Many people go into marriage without ever discussing contraception yet somewhere in their mind, they know they are not ready for a baby. I’ve seen couples who were planning to go overseas to further their education. They do not factor in how having a baby at that time can cause problems. There are childcare challenges if you are having to attend lectures or meet thesis deadlines. If you need one year or two to do your Masters programme or whatever it is you want to do, then mutually agree with your partner on what you want to do about childbearing. Perhaps you may agree to use contraception for the next year until you finish your study or set up your business or whatever it is. Then you can be better prepared for the challenges of having a baby. It’s better to be ready than have the baby and find that you are running helter-skelter. You cannot finish your studies, you cannot take care of your baby… You feel frustrated just because you did not stop to plan. If you don’t plan, you have planned to fail!
All contraceptions are reversible apart from sterilization so there is no reason not to choose one if you wish to delay child bearing for a while. And there are a number to choose from. If one doesn’t suit you, go on to another one till you find one that suits.
3. Do a HIV test. HIV is so common among the black population that many organisations and churches that conduct marriages now strongly encourage their members to have a HIV test before the occasion. This is good practice and I strongly encourage it. No one wants to break up your relationship! It’s better to know and get treatment rather than going into a relationship when you are HIV positive, infecting your partner and, worse still, passing the infection onto a new-born baby.
So do a HIV test. Tell your partner ”I’ve done a HIV test and I would like you to do one too, please.” That way, you both know where you stand. If either of you is positive, well, then you know! There is a solution and help out there. So do a HIV test before you get married. Better still, do it before the two of you get intimate. See where you both stand!
While you are at it, why not check for other STDs (sexually transmitted infections) like chlamydia and gonorrhoea. This is especially important if you have engaged in casual sex in the past. It often just requires a cotton wool swab for samples from your vagina or a simple urine sample for men. The good news is that many of these infections can be treated easily with antibiotics.
Untreated chlamydia can lead to miscarriage, constant pelvic pain and even infertility. So do an STD check before sexual intimacy.
4. Check for Hepatitis B and C. These infections are a big threat to our health. They often go hand in hand with HIV and are common in Africans. The African Collaborative Hepatitis Network states that ”Viral hepatitis remains a major global health threat that desperately needs increased public awareness.” You can find out about their work here. It is estimated that 15% of Africans have Hepatitis B compared with 1% of Americans.
It can be transmitted from unscreened blood transfusions, injecting drugs, sexual intercourse and from mother to child during childbirth. Many children who get it from their mothers become chronic carriers of hepatitis and this can cause liver problems such as liver cancer in later life. So this is an important test to do. In most hospitals, the same blood sample is used to test both hepatitis and HIV.
If one partner is positive, the other partner can be vaccinated against hepatitis and this reduces the risk of catching it from each other. There is treatment for Hepatitis C which has a cure rate of about 80%. There is also treatment which can be taken for Hepatitis B and these can slow down the progression of the infection so that it should not cause liver damage.
5. Sort out any outstanding women’s health issues. A very important one is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This barbaric practice which is prevalent in many Black Communities can cause a lot of sexual problems. The amazing work being done by FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) in stopping this horrible practice is highly laudable. You can read all about FORWARD here. For those who are not familiar with this, some cultures believe that to reduce sexual immorality among women, they need to have certain parts of their genitals cut off usually when the girl child is about eight years old. Unfortunately, there can be immediate complications such as bleeding and infections as these practices are often done in unsanitary conditions. There is often no analgesia or anaesthetic administered during the procedure, causing untold distress to these young girls. But more importantly, terrible scarring around the vagina can follow and lead to difficulty during sexual intercourse and childbirth. In extreme cases, the scarring can completely cover the private parts so that menstrual blood cannot come out.
If you have ever had this procedure, please see a doctor to be examined as some of the damage may be amenable to surgical repair. The FORWARD website gives a lot of information and advice on this condition. On a lighter note, if your period is predictable, you may want to plan ahead and ensure that your wedding night doesn’t find you ‘raining red’. I don’t think the groom will be very pleased!
6. Expect to get involved. Good quality sexual intimacy requires the involvement of both parties! Don’t approach sex with the attitude of ‘what’s in it for me?’ Ladies: don’t just lie in bed while the groom huffs and puffs. Have you ever tried to till concrete? How much more easy to sow on yielding soil. Be involved! Move your hips. Dance with the rhythm. Don’t be shy to say where you would like to be touched. Don’t be afraid to reach and feel – you belong to each other now. You are his Juliet and he is your Romeo. So go for it. Let the bellows blast fully and you will enjoy glorious sexual intimacy.
7. Get some lubricant from any pharmacy. Small detail but could make a whole lot of difference. The excitement of finally being free to explore each other can lead to a rush – yet the best sex is a marathon rather than a sprint. If the lady is still a bit dry when the groom dives in, it can be quite painful for her. You don’t want to start with a painful experience. So lubricate liberally as required. Taking some time to touch each other, kissing, petting and speaking loving words before the actual penetration can ensure that the vagina becomes naturally lubricated. But if this doesn’t happen, the lubricant can come in very handy.
8. Be clean! Cleanliness is very important in sexual intimacy. There is nothing as off-putting as smelly armpits or dirty hair at the time of intercourse. Ladies: especially make sure the area between your legs is shaved – it doesn’t have to be clean shaven but at least let the hairs not be so long that the man doesn’t even know where to put his penis or give you the pleasure you need. Shave and keep clean so that when it’s time, the feast is ready. Shave your armpits, wash your hair. If you use extensions or wear wigs, pack these neatly in a hair net: you wouldn’t want bits to fall off during the act and scare the groom out of his wits thinking he has decapitated you!
Make it a habit to shower before sexual intimacy and this way, every part of your body becomes available for the mutual feast. This applies to men also! Get some nice perfume!
9. Get as fit as you can! Are you overweight? Do you regularly find an excuse not to exercise? Make some changes! Physical fitness greatly enhances sexual enjoyment. What sort of food do you eat? This can affect your energy levels. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables as they are packed full of lovely nutrients that can energise your sex drive. If you take regular medications, speak with your doctor and ensure they do not affect your sex drive. Some medications like anti-depressants and some drugs for treating hypertension can affect your sex drive. Your doctor might be able to switch you to something else so get a medication check.
10. Have fun! Enjoy yourself. Do you know that sex has a lot of health benefits? It reduces blood pressure, de-stresses you, helps you have a good sleep, makes you feel younger, improves your immune system, releases hormones that can counteract anxiety/depression and can foster closeness with your spouse. How cool is that!
So make up your mind to have fun. You can do it, nobody else can create your sexual heaven but you. You have to determine in your heart and mind to make it happen, that you are going to be part of the activity and not just lie there like a log of wood. Be an active participant.
Remember, this is your own love story. You are his Juliet and he is your Romeo. This is your moment, give it all you can. Let it be a beautiful symphony you both can enjoy and that way, sexual intimacy can give amazing joys you could only have dreamt of.
Now you have the 10 top sexual health checks to do, feel free to add yours in the comment section below 😀 Click here to like us on facebook and invite your friends too. Thanks :))
”You’ve been hearing so much about HIV/AIDS do you think it may be a good idea if you all get tested for it?”
”Ah, I cannot suggest such a thing to him! He will wonder why I am bringing it up. He will think I have done something wrong.”
”But you said you haven’t done anything wrong,” I reminded her.
”Yes, but would he believe me?” She sighed. ”And even if he believed me, what would his family think?”
”This doesn’t have to go beyond the two of you, you know.”
”People will hear! This kind of news has a way of getting out. I may even get deported!”
”C’mon,’ I chided. “You’ve got to stay positive. You can’t dwell on all the worse case scenarios.”
I thought for a moment.
”Okay, how would you feel about bringing him with you to the next appointment? I could then raise the issue of testing without declaring your status and see what he feels.”
”I don’t know…’ There was another heavy sigh. She dabbed away a tear that was making its way down her face leaving a trail of mascara behind it.
How could family or friends help in this situation? Or should this be kept strictly between Mma and Dike?
Since she feels unable to tell Dike herself, would it be appropriate for Mma to enlist her husband’s best friend in telling Dike her status ?
Does she really need to tell her husband??
Don’t forget you can join the discussion on our facebook page at facebook.com/swbforblackladies.
I smiled encouragingly at Mma as she sat facing me. She had come back as planned and I was glad to see she was still looking well-groomed.
Her braided hair was lovely and held off her face with a lemon green hairpin. She even had some lipstick on.
“How have you been since last time?”
“It’s been a nightmare, doctor! I keep hearing this voice whispering to me ‘You are HIV positive…’ I keep hoping it’s a dream I can wake up from.”
We were both silent for a while.
“Have you told your husband?” I asked at last.
“No! I couldn’t possibly do that. He will chase me away from the house. He will disown me!”
I was surprised.
“Why on earth would he do that?”
“He will say I have been cheating on him!” She looked as though she might burst into tears and ruin her lovely make-up. “…and I haven’t, honestly.”
“You are going to need support and understanding as you go through this,” I said gently. “If he knew, then he could support you.”
“But how on earth am I going to tell him… How?”
What do you think might be the reason for Mma’s reluctance about telling her husband?
How best can she broach the subject?
Does she really need to tell him?
Mma looked at me her eyes filled with tears. She was so overcome with emotion that she could hardly speak. I had to look down as I felt my own tears gathering behind my eyelids. I must remain professional. I must not get drawn in.
“Doctor, are you sure? Are you sure this is my result? Could there be a mistake?”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I had seen this scenario many times and it never gets easier.
“I am sorry, Mma. This is the second time we’ve done it and it’s still positive.”
“But how could that be?” she burst out. “How could I be HIV positive? I am married! I don’t sleep around.”
She stopped again as the tears gathered, her shoulders shook as she cried, so broken, so devastated by the information I had just given her.
I had tried to be as gentle as I could. I’d given the usual warning shot and let her know that I had no good news for her. But still, no matter how we prepare patients to receive the news, it’s never easy to hear that you have HIV.
I swallowed back the words I was about to speak. Decided to allow her time to cry. After a while, she raised her head.
“Doctor, please tell me, how could I be HIV positive? I was brought up to be well behaved. I met my husband when I was a virgin. I never so much as showed any man my pants before then. And in twenty-four years of marriage, I have never slept with anyone else, apart from my husband. So how could this be?”
“There are several ways of contracting HIV. We would have to look and see how this might have happened. Sleeping with someone infected with HIV is one way of catching it. But there are other ways.”
“Well, for instance, if you’ve ever had a blood transfusion that was contaminated with HIV…”
“I’ve never had a blood transfusion.”
“Injected drugs before?”
“Okay, so those are out. Another way would be if you were accidentally pricked with a needle that had the virus on it…”
She paused as she gave it some thought.
“No, I haven’t ever had any injections. I had immunisations as a child but that wouldn’t have caused it, I don’t think.”
“Okay,” I replied. “Another way will be if for example…” I paused. It is never easy talking about sensitive issues like infidelity. I cleared my throat and continued: “if for example your partner has slept with someone who has HIV or if he ever received blood contaminated with HIV.”
She looked at me. Her eyes widened as realisation dawned on her. Then she asked in a quiet voice. “Do you think I may have got this from my husband?”
“I have no idea. You know best what may have happened.”
She looked away.
“I never imagined I would be HIV positive. I thought it only happens to people who are careless and have no morals. But not to me – I’ve never done anything wrong…”
She started crying again.
“Perhaps we could meet up in the next few days and talk about what you want to do.”
“Yes.” She shook her head, lost in grief.
Stay tuned as we follow Mma on her journey with HIV.
Do you know that, as current figures stand, an estimated 1 in 32 black women in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV in the course of their lives?
• How are our Black sisters getting HIV?
• What should we be doing to change the statistics?