Living with HIV

HIV? Me? No, I am married! (20)

“Your wife has HIV.” I said, my eyes fixed on Dike’s face.

“What! HIV!You cant be serious!” Dike jumped up from his seat.

For a moment I thought he was going to smack my face. Frightened, I quickly got on my feet. From the corner of my eye, I saw Nma get up as well and make a move towards Dike.
Even before she could take a step, Dike swung round to face her.

“Where did you get that from?” he spat at her “You slut.”
Nma recoiled in shock.
She looked as if a thunderbolt had struck her. It was that look that shook me out of my trance.

“Now, look here, Mr Dike..” I started angrily, “I will not stand by and watch you insult….”

“Yes, defend her!” he shouted furiously, swinging round to face me, “You women are all the same.”

With a swift movement, he overturned my side table. I watched in disbelief as my BNF and other documents spread across the floor like leaves during autumn.

“I will deal with you if you have given me HIV,” he shouted at Nma before storming out of the room.

Nma mouthed ‘sorry’ to me through the tears streaming down her face as she ran after her husband, clutching her handbag.

Zombie-like, I bent down to pick up the file containing the insurance papers a patient had sent in for me to sign. I stopped half way down and then lowered myself to the floor to sit surrounded by the rest of my papers.

//

HIV? Me? No, I am married (18)

“Doctor, please tell my husband what is going on.” Nma put her hands together under her chin and sighed.

I stared back at her confused for a moment.

Could it be that she hadn’t told him her status? Was she seriously expecting me to do this? First her daughter, now her husband. How many more family members was I expected to break this news to?

I felt a bit panicky at the thought of Nma bringing an endless line up of sons, daughters, uncles and aunties, in short a whole clan of people for me to speak to.

Nma had come back to see me with her husband a week after I’d seen her with her daughter. I was glad they had come together. I immediately recognised Dike, though we hadn’t met for nearly a year. He looked much older than I remembered but still had that distinguished look about him. Perhaps a few more grey hairs than last time.

“This is my husband, Dike,” Nma spoke once they sat down.
I had nodded at him and smiled. I wasn’t sure how much he had disclosed to Nma. Had he told her his status? He nodded back at me, his face blank. Maybe he didn’t recognise me.

“Nma,” I started trying to gather my thoughts. “I…”

“What is going on, doctor,” Dike snapped. “My wife has been losing weight, she is always tired, I have found her crying on several occasions for no reason…is she at meno…meno…whatever you women experience when you are older?”

What! I screamed inside. If it hadn’t been such a serious situation, I was sure I’d have burst out laughing. Instead, my mind went into a tail spin. What game was Dike playing??

 ”Understanding Contraception” get it here

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HIV? Me? No, I am married! (11)

Black couple

Dike returned for his blood test result a week later. He’d called the receptionist for his result but, due to our surgery policy, this could not be given over the phone and he had been asked to make an appointment to see a doctor.

Click here for information on the Afrocarribean Health Event this spring.

Click here to download my free article “6 Keys to Outstanding Sexual Intimacy.”
Click here to join me as I speak on Sexual Health tonight at 8pm

”How is work?” I asked when he sat down. He looked the picture of prosperity with his well-cut brown suit and an expensive tie to match. “I must get my husband one of those ties for his birthday,” I thought as my mind strayed momentarily.

”It’s going very well. I have just been promoted and my company is sending me to Angola for a few weeks.”

“Lucky him,” I thought and wondered how I ended up becoming a doctor and not an engineer in a wealthy oil company. All expense paid travel, luxurious homes… I had to discipline my mind to stay in the clinic and not drift off to Abu Dhabi.

”Oh, that’s lovely! Congratulations!” I was genuinely pleased for him.

”Thanks. So about the test…?”

”Well, I’m sorry, I don’t have good news for you.”I paused. 

It seemed that all I had done today was give out bad news to patients. There was the man with lung cancer, the lady whose wrist had broken after a minor fall, the lady who’d been barren for 12 years and had forgotten about childbearing only to find out she is pregnant and wouldn’t hear of keeping the baby. She was still trying to work out why the pregnancy was bad news for her. Oh well!

”Yes?”he asked.

”One of the viral tests was positive.”

We talked for a while. And long after Dike left I sat stunned and unable to move on to my next patient. How could this be? Had I really heard him correctly…?

 

Click here for information on the Afrocarribean Health Event this spring.

Click here to download my free article “6 Keys to Outstanding Sexual Intimacy.”

Click here to join me as I speak on sexual Health tonight at 8pm

Copper Coil wins!

The result of our poll on contraceptives is out! Thanks to all who participated. You can view the poll here.

The result is given below in a chart. The contraceptive pills, patch, vaginal ring, contraceptive injection, withdrawal method, natural methods (like checking cervical mucus), caps and diaphragms got no votes at all! Suprise, suprise!

contraception, sexual wellbeing network

Sexual Wellbeing Network: Contraception Poll.

Enjoy this cartoon drawn for us by caricaturist Rick Coleman 🙂                                                                                                                                                            

copper coil, sexual wellbeing network

Sexual Wellbeing Network: copper coil cartoon.

                  

So you the readers voted the copper coil as your fav contraception.

See a picture of the coil in my hand below. Many people are suprised at how small it really is. They usually had a mental picture of a large motor coil in their head or a climbing rope 😀

Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman

Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman

But the coil is really quite small.

copper coil, sexual wellbeing network

Sexual wellbeing network: copper coil

So the next question is:

What do you like about the copper coil? What makes it your contraception of choice? If you didnt vote for it, what puts you off the copper coil? What makes you go, ‘Arrgh..noo!’ when the doctor suggests a copper coil? What method do YOU like/use and what makes it your own favourite? Are you surprised at the methods that got no vote?

Thanks again to all who voted! Watch out for our next poll!

Find us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/healthysextoday

Condoms – do they fail or do you? (4)

”No, it’s okay. I will buy some,” Amina said.

”Just keep a straight face when you get to the shop counter with the condoms,” said Baako.

Amina glared at him.

”Just kidding! I will buy some as well,” he said.

”Good! Like I have said in the past, there are other more effective methods of contraception but if this is your choice, then that’s alright. Hopefully if you stick to using condoms every time you have sex and remembering our discussion on how to use them correctly, no pregnancy will result.”

”I seriously hope not!’ Amina exclaimed ”I am definitely not having a third abortion.” Her voice broke.
There was an awkward silence in the room.

”Some people who have had an abortion find it hard to move on. Some keep blaming themselves or others. It can have an emotional toll.’ I paused and watched as Amina nodded, not raising her face.

Sexual Wellbeing Network

”Talking to an experienced counsellor can help you come to terms with the past so you can move on and embrace the future. Would you like to speak to a counsellor about your experiences?”

”I think so,” Amina said quietly.

In a rare display of empathy which I didn’t realise he had in him, Baako reached out and took Amina’s hand.

If you are struggling with guilt concerning an abortion, please seek counselling today! You need to forgive yourself and move on. Our past experiences should not be allowed to destroy our future joys. But please take steps to ensure the past does not repeat itself.

Condoms – do they fail or do you? (3)

”Which one of you is taking up the responsibility to ensure you always have condoms available ?” I asked.
(If you havent met Amina and Baako, you can meet them here and here)

”It’s a woman’s job, isnt it?” Baako shrugged.

”What makes it a woman’s job to provide contraception?” I was curious.

”Ask him, please!!” Amina said irritated.

Sexual Wellbeing Network, condoms

Sexual Wellbeing Network

”I will wear it if it’s available but don’t expect me to go into a shop to buy condoms.”

”Really! How do you think I look when I go to ask for condoms? What do you think the shopkeeper is thinking of this woman who has not only bought some spinach but also a box of condoms?? Eh?”

”That you have sex…” Baako teased.

Amina shook her head in despair.

”Well, the surgery has some free condoms in the toilet if you want to pick up some on your way out,” I offered, smiling.

Should you feel awkward when you go into a store to buy condoms?
Does your doctor’s clinic stock free condoms? Should they?

Celebrating the Sexual Wellbeing Network (SWB) community!

We welcome the 1000th member of the SWB community. You are what the blog is about. You make it all worthwhile!
As a way to celebrate, we are featuring the comments of the SWB community on different topics featured on this blog. No one knows it all. Your input helps the whole community learn and expand our understanding.

Sexual Wellbeing Network

Sexual Wellbeing Network

Thank you! Enjoy the comments below and have a fabulous Christmas!

On Female Condoms:
”I think where the emphasis should be placed most should be on the effectiveness of these toys, do they do the job? Are they capable of protecting the woman from unwanted pregnancies, contracting the HIV virus and other STDs, without reducing the fun and intimacy of sex? How much does it affect the users psychologically? Is it acceptable to both man and woman? These questions, to my own understanding, are more important than the looks of the toy, after all, once they are inserted in place, you only feel and never see them until the act is over and done with. If this is the case, I will encourage our women to please heavily arm themselves with it at all times, since prevention is better than cure” – Ilouno

On HIV:
”There is no gainsaying the fact that societal pressures, family disharmony and loss of values contribute a great deal to the pervasiveness and sexual indiscretions, that exposes couples to this most embarrassing scourge of our time, and it takes more than just self control to curb it. The message still remains; ‘Zip up or use condoms’,’one man one woman’, as fidelity and faithfulness to one’s husband, wife or girlfriend remains one sure way of keeping the numbers down.” – Ilouno

”Mma needs to tell her husband about her HIV status because, think about it, how long can she keep the secret? And what if keeping it secret leads to her infecting others in some way – her husband or children? If her husband loves her enough, he’ll stand by her after the initial shock” – Asanwa.

”Fidelity in marriage is so important. Temptations may occur but they must be discussed with one’s spouse to allow for fortification of any lose ends by prayer and increased efforts to meet each others’ needs. This also allows for accountability” – Kay.

”Marriage should involve openness and freedom to broach even the most difficult subjects. She needs to tell him. No one should bear this alone! She may be reluctant because this would bring up the almighty ‘infidelity’ which could lead to accusations and counter accusations or disintegration of the marriage. Nevertheless, knowing the truth sets you free so she needs to broach the subject in a non-confrontational manner” – Nkirum

”I have had the opportunity as an adherence counsellor in the HIV clinic and most times its shocking how we Africans especially perceive HIV. The funniest and most ridiculous I ever heard was that it was just like malaria that would go away after a few medications or perhaps someone from their village was after them (spiritual attack). The challenge is that most people do not take the time to acquire the necessary information on health issues and in this case know for sure their status but would prefer to sit on the fence all in the name that ‘what I don’t know won’t kill me’. That is just clear cut ignorance and foolishness” – Amie.

”Faithfulness, faithfulness, faithfulness! how can you know that your spouse is faithful? O Lord help! Only the regenerated in heart can be faithful. Please good people, if you ever suspect your spouse, call a round table conference!!!” – Joy.

”Being faithful is not enough but it boils down to being faithful to a faithful partner. There is hope for everyone irrespective of the trauma such revelation can bring. Whatever way one gets HIV doesn’t reduce the trauma, suspicions and all that.” – Honey

”This is a very touching story but unfortunately one that repeats itself often. Many of us are in denial. We believe we are too careful to ever be infected. We make sure we are not exposed to all the risk factors and therefore we are fine. The truth is it could befall anyone. We may be able to control all risk factors under our control, but what about the ones that are beyond our control? We may trust our partners but some human beings have dual personalities and can change: only God never changes. Being informed is the best weapon and exhibiting responsible behaviour” – Ubong

On Injecting Drugs:
”We need to equip our youth as little moments of pleasure and experiments can bite one in the bum in years to come” – Kay

On Educating Teenagers:
”Not until my son was taught how to use condoms in a health class, I couldn’t have imagined there was a proper way to do it. Like most Black parents, I was initially upset about the need for a teenager to be exposed to that aspect of life but when I realised he will one day use it, then I felt better he learns to use it the right way from the experts rather than from someone or somewhere else. We need to be better informed to protect ourselves and our loved ones” – Engee.

On Testing for HIV:
”Many Africans believe that what we don’t know will not kill us. He is just trying to hang it on something to avoid the test. I however believe that as more people see the benefit of early detection, they will offer themselves for screening without being asked. Almost all of us were in this same situation before we got some awareness. It is ignorance to say the least, as it is in his interest if he knew better.” – Engee

”Most ignorant people like Dike would not want to know their status forgetting that awareness is the first step towards a solution. I personally believe knowing one’s status is very important!!!” – Bels

”To be honest, if I believe I don’t 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. The 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!” – Jetmum

”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” – Omorewo

On Challenge to Men on Contraception:
”I totally agree with men asking their partners what contraceptives they intend to use and both parties agreeing on what to use. It takes two to tango and there’s no reason to suggest to the other to take care of her body while you take care of yours. That goes against the essence of marriage/partnership. So please MEN, take on the challenge” – Stef

”A very objective and well thought out challenge to our men. Dear Man, my prayer is that you rise up to the challenge” – Elsie

”I equally challenge women to take control of their bodies and do what they can to protect themselves. After all, abortion or unwanted pregnancies all happen in their bodies… not to talk of diseases! Take charge of your bodies and live life to the fullest.” – Jetmum.

”I feel to an extent it is joint responsibility, but on the whole every human being is responsible for their own body. And so a greater part of the responsibility lies on the woman when it comes to contraception. We have to look after our bodies, women have to consider the fact that they could get pregnant or catch a disease and have to explicitly make sure they are protected from this. It would be nice to think that someone else can take responsibility, but except in the case of children (who have no business engaging in sexual activity anyway) and incapacitated people, the ultimate responsibility of every capable adult lies on themself” – Sisbee.

On Sterilization:
”I am Nigerian who schooled and lived in UK for some years. I have two lovely kids and honestly they are my best gift from God ever. I had a vasectomy five months after our second child. I am very normal, my home run is awesome, my erection and ejaculation is superb and I also know that I can have a reversal if the need arises but truth be told even after the marriage broke down I have no regret, (in the UK cost of reversal is less than £3000 now). I am not keen on remarriage and even if I find love again and remarry, I can adopt a child or two if necessary or do artificial extraction and insemination if I don’t want reversal. Why did I do it? I just didn’t want more than two kids in a wobbling and very rocky marriage and I felt it is ungodly for me to be having more kids under the situation. I prefer action to complaints particularly when I knew she was not willing to have a long lasting contraception procedure so I did and am still happy I did” – Segun

”Call me old fashioned, but I wouldn’t advise my “future” husband to get sterilized. It still feels foreign to me. I’d rather go for something easily reversible, although I am sure easily reversible contraception methods may not be as effective as sterilization and other contraception methods in its family. But it is a risk I’d rather take” – Debbie

”Well, for me, women are at the receiving end always. It should be ‘making’ a decision not ‘settling’ for one. Amina wants to be a good wife, mother, and woman but she is not happy taking this step. What is this man ready to put into this decision? The woman is a soil that is always ready to grow d seed but d man needs to provide d seed. Make a decision that will bring smile on both Amina and her husband. I am not against her decision but there are other ways out. Make the man understand that he can’t eat his cake and still have it” – Kemi

”I am black and have been sterilized. I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant anymore. Everything has remained the same for me and even better as I enjoy sex more. I can’t be bothered about what anyone thinks about my decision as it is my life. I have the number of children I want and that is it for me. Recently a lady lost her life while trying to abort a fifth child. She couldn’t bear to have another. Women have to take the decision if their darling husbands have refused. I believe that more women and men will opt for this procedure as they become more enlightened and better still as they get the assurance that sex life remains intact and in cases like mine even better” – Engee.

”As far as I’m concerned sterilization is better than having to abort another unwanted baby! Sterilization should be promoted and shouted from the rooftops in Africa. Once you’re sure you are done, you shut the gate and get on with life… that’s it! – Jetmum

”I think its all a matter of choice. However, I will not choose sterilization. Other options like IUD are available which many have used including yours truly and can enjoy marital bliss without the awkwardness of always reaching for a condom. As an African woman, permanent sterilization is a no no!. But as I said earlier, it still boils down to one’s choice and beliefs!” – Zuzu.

”Personally I still feel sterilisation (male & female) is a bit extreme. I know other methods might not be as effective but Amina could try Implanon in the meantime while the couple buy time to make a permanent decision” Ofon.

“In my own opinion, I think sterilization is unnecessary. There are many other types of contraceptive that Amina and Baako could choose from which would give them the desired result. It’s obvious that Baako is not happy with the issue of sterilization, then let Amina who thinks there’s nothing wrong with sterilization go for it. After all, woman can be sterilized too!” Yemisi

”My view on male sterilization might be a little bit different. I am an African lady and would never advise my husband get sterilized even though he has said he wouldn’t mind. My reason is this; no one knows the future, I do not pray for a terrible one but things happen. Hence, I would rather go for a reversible contraceptive method” Omorewo

”I think male sterilization (which apparently is a simpler procedure than a hysterectomy and female sterilization) should be promoted more amongst black people. The statistics are clear and in fact in men just don’t want to hear it at all which I think is sad because it is an easy solution to these issues. One school of thought however is this: our society is generally notorious for male promiscuity even among some of the married folk. I may be speaking for some women when I wonder if sterilisation would increase this problem as the risks are reduced” KC

On Withdrawal Method.

”As a black man with a strong Christian background, I still find it difficult to believe we need any form of contraception. I would rather exercise the self control withdrawals. This I know would sound strange to some but I believe its also an option for those who can” – John Bull

”Hmm I’m actually amused by the confidence with which Mr Bull is recommending withdrawal. Sounds like the catch is for men to pride themselves in the ability to control themselves. I think this may work until you are absolutely sure you don’t want more children. People may manage the odd mistake that yields one child but if there are multiples in your genes, please don’t follow Mr Bull oh!!!” – Kayce.

On Abortion:
”Quite shocked at Amina’s abortion number: two already! She must be emotionally affected by that. She would need support. But I’m also surprised people do not consider implant or even injection (for female). I mean it’s stress free and free lol” – Ange E

”It’s sad that though we know abortion is murder, we continue in it and help people to abort children. Let me repeat…ABORTION is MURDER. We have walked so far away from God and His statutes that ‘modernism’ is now the order of the day. No matter how we look at it the guilt of abortion in whatever religion stays with the woman all through her life. Do not have a hand in it, nor propagate it. When those children are murdered in the womb, they scream silently. You may not hear it. But God does” Olive

”Interesting……want to see what their decision was at the end. Abortion……….hmm! Its killing a God-given life so that’s not an option in my opinion” – Pearl.

Your community, Your voice.
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Now what comment touched your heart and why??

Female Condoms: Greatest Invention since sliced bread?

An article on the BBC News website yesterday caught my eye. It was titled ”The return of the Female Condom.”

Some interesting pictures of female condoms on the site have been included here. I can feel some of our ladies cringing at the look of these objects 😀

Sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News.

sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News

They don’t look very sexy, these objects. But if they do the job, who cares?

Sexualwellbeingnetwork. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

You can read all about them here

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

With women constituting 60% of people living with HIV in Sub-Sahara Africa, drastic measures are needed and that may have to include female condoms, no matter how ugly they look.

Of course our men can save us the trouble by simply using male condoms…..

On a lighter note, the rings found at the outer end of some female condoms have now turned into fashion assessories with some women using the rings as bangles!! I hope they wash them first…ew!

Female Condoms: Greatest Invention since sliced bread?

An article on the BBC News website yesterday caught my eye. It was titled ”The return of the Female Condom.”

Some interesting pictures of female condoms on the site have been included here. I can feel some of our ladies cringing at the look of these objects 😀

Sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News.

sexualwellbeingnetwork, BBC News

They don’t look very sexy, these objects. But if they do the job, who cares?

Sexualwellbeingnetwork. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

You can read all about them here

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

Sexual wellbeing network. BBC News.

With women constituting 60% of people living with HIV in Sub-Sahara Africa, drastic measures are needed and that may have to include female condoms, no matter how ugly they look.

Of course our men can save us the trouble by simply using male condoms…..

On a lighter note, the rings found at the outer end of some female condoms have now turned into fashion assessories with some women using the rings as bangles!! I hope they wash them first…ew!