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! (17)

HIV, Black women, Hepatitis“Yes, that’s wise. It will be good if you all get tested and we can arrange
that for you.”

”Meanwhile if someone has a bloodborne virus like HIV, it is good medical
practice to check for other bloodborne viruses like hepatitis as these can
sometimes go together because they can be passed on in similar ways.”

”Hepatitis?’ Nma frowned “Isn’t that a liver problem?”

”Yes it is. It can be…..’

”That’s what grandma had when her eyes were all yellow,” Aka interjected. Nma
nodded.

”Yes, hepatitis can cause jaundice which is what makes the eye appear yellow.
There are different types: You can get hepatitis A from contaminated food, That’s
not a big problem but the ones we worry about are Hepatitis B and C. These can be
acquired by using unsterilised needles, sexual intercourse, using unscreened
blood or blood products…

”I had a blood transfusion after I gave birth to Aka…so I might have this
hepatitis too?” Nma started crying again.

”Hei, dont think like that,” I chided. ”We need to do a blood test to find out
first. No need worrying yourself to death about something you might not have.”

”Mum please take it easy,” Aka pleaded.

”We don’t have to do it immediately if you would rather take some time to think
about it.”

Nma looked blankly ahead.

”Doctor, lets sort out the HIV first and maybe do the hepatitis later,” Aka
said.

”Fine,” I handed her some information leaflets on hepatitis.

”So how do we get rid of mum’s HIV?” she asked.

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How are you coping with HIV? Do you have Hepatits B or C and would like to encourage others with your story? Please get in touch here

HIV? Me? No, I am married! (14)

”No you can’t get HIV from hugging someone. There has to be blood or body fluid contact.”
Nma had backed away from her daughter’s hug.

”I don’t want Aka to catch it,” she muttered.

”HIV is a blood-borne virus. It’s passed on through blood transfusions, sex, using contaminated needles and things like that.”

”We have some really good leaflets on HIV and I’ll give you some to have a read through at home.”

”No, I wouldn’t want my husband to find such material at home.”

”Mum, Daddy has to get tested as well. You have to find a way of getting him to take a test.”

Nma shook her head in wordless resignation.HIV, Black women, Adaeze Ifezulike

”We all need to get tested as well,” Aka said with a maturity I hadn’t realised she possessed.

I smiled at her and nodded.

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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.

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HIV? Me? No, I’m married! (5)

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.”

sickness and health 1

“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?

How do I protect my teenage child from HIV?

Your teenager knows about Twilight, The Hunger Games, Big Bang Theory and ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!’
But do they know this: MORE THAN 10% OF THOSE NEWLY DIAGNOSED WITH HIV IN THE UK ARE UNDER 25.

Of those newly diagnosed with HIV in UK, over 10% were under 25 years.

Do they know about the dangers of HIV, Chlamydia and unplanned pregnancies? Are they aware enough to avoid them?
I’m assuming that the word ‘abstinence’ doesn’t feature in their texts…..
So, if you want to protect your teenage children, please get them to watch this video!!
 1. Are your teens well informed about the dangers of HIV and STIs?
2. What more should parents, schools and the NHS do to get this information to them?

HIV? Me? No, I’ married! (4)

It was five weeks later when Dike turned up at the surgery. If you haven’t met Dike and his family please meet them  here and here

“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.

https://adaezeifezulike.wordpress.com/

“I would like to ask you a few questions to further determine your risk and ensure that I do the appropriate test.”

“Okay.’

“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.

HIV? Me? No, I am married!

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.”

“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?”

“No!”

“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?