”So how long ago did you have chlamydia infection?” I asked Dike.
“About two years ago.”
”Did you get treatment for it?”
”How do you think you may have caught the infection?”
”I don’t know,” He shrugged. ”Through sex, I suppose.”
”What about your wife? Did she get treated for it?”
”My wife?” he asked surprised.
”I didn’t get it from my wife.”
I paused expectantly.
He shuffled his feet. He was getting impatient again with all the questioning. I saw he wasn’t going to take my bait. He probably felt he had said enough to this nosy doctor.
How far would you expect your doctor to pry into your private affairs?
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”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.
Of those newly diagnosed with HIV in UK, over 10% were under 25 years.
“Nice to see you again,” I smiled as I ushered him into the consulting room.
“How can I help you?” I asked after we sat down.
“Well, I thought about what you said about HIV and Hepatitis,” he paused. “I would like to do the test, if that’s okay.”
“Yes of course,” I replied, pleased. “May I ask what has influenced your decision to do the test,” I asked as I reached for my tourniquet and sample bottle.
“It’s better to find out, isn’t it? Besides I haven’t been feeling very well for some time.”
“How do you mean?”
“I have a sore throat which won’t go away. I have also been feeling tired all the time even when I have been resting. And I have some lumps in my armpit,” he reached under his arms.
“I would like to ask you a few questions to further determine your risk and ensure that I do the appropriate test.”
“Have you ever injected drugs in the past?”
“No! …well, actually just once when I was in the University, years ago. I was messing about with some friends and they convinced me to try out some heroin… that can’t cause HIV can it?”
Do you know what the early symptoms of HIV or Hepatitis are?
What warning signs would you look out for?
In the UK, 29% of black African heterosexual men living with HIV do not know they have the virus.
“We are offering all newly registered patients the chance to have the test.”
“But why?” he asked again, suspiciously.
“It is regarded as good medical practice to do this. People who have HIV or Hepatitis may not show any signs until the disease is very advanced. If any of the tests are positive, then the person can benefit from treatment and specialist support much earlier on.”
“I don’t want to do any test,” he replied, “I know its because I am Black that you want to do the test. They are always targeting us. They are all racists.”
I was speechless for a moment at his outburst.
That’s not the case,” I hurried to reassure him, “HIV is prevalent in Africa…”
“You see, that’s why you want to do it…because I am from Africa,” he cut me short. He picked up his car keys from the table and stood to leave.
Why do you think Dike reacted like this?
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.
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??