As a sexually active gay man, I am HIV and you are HIV. This is what we are…
Not too long ago, I had an epiphany or sudden realization in my consciousness that we are not winning this war against HIV. I realized in fact that we are never likely to win this war. I work with key populations affected by HIV; therefore I have easy access to statistics of HIV trends among the general population (heterosexuals) and MARPs (Most at Risk Population). While the trend shows a steady decline in the general population, it is rapidly increasing on our own side of the track, especially in the subgroup of the MARPs known as the MSM (men who have sex with men).
I am a very pragmatic, blunt fellow. People that I have had the opportunity to meet will attest to that. I will therefore say that we need far more than just abstinence and consistent condom use to help us win this war. Abstinence was initially touted as one of the best methods to prevent HIV infection but the statistics show it is simply not working because people just cannot be stopped from having sex. Realistically, very few people are really able to abstain from sex. Consistent condom use became the next best thing but even this is not free from some challenges. This is because a significant number among us don’t enjoy the sex as much when we sheath our dicks to the extent that some cannot sustain erections. It could even be argued that in heterocoitus, there are more practical reasons to use condoms like avoiding pregnancy, and that this method of prevention could be more effective in the heterosexual population.
Most of my friends, some of them ex-lovers, are HIV positive. This is not necessarily because they were careless or ignorant; mostly because they dared to love and trust their partners. I have seen HIV alter the course of the lives my friends, their self-esteem constantly ebbing, and all this gnaws my soul. I wept the day an ex-lover called me “Sir” and like a lamb, meekly hearkened to me; this is someone who ordinarily thrives on fights with me, who would quote all laws on earth and force me to do his bidding. And here he was, seemingly broken. Another friend had to change his career path, while another is worried about ever marrying and raising kids.
My fellow rainbow community members, I have more HIV positives than negatives as patients, and as friends. Let’s stop this trend; let us stop HIV before it wipes out our community. This virus is smart, not only is it becoming resistant to some of our Ant-retroviral medications, now there are incidents of transmitted resistance, and we are seeing more and more people who are resistant to both lines of ARVs. Meanwhile these fellows with resistant strains are sexually active and lax in condom use like most people. Such cruelty! And we should never forget that someone who is already HIV positive can get reinfected with a resistant strain.
My advice for those of us positives: please don’t be defeated. Don’t sink. Don’t let HIV destroy your life or dreams. Register with a clinic and be very serious with your drugs. In spite of its side effects, don’t give up, because the benefits of those drugs far outweigh the side effects. Currently I have patients who are positives but test negative because they have reached virology success, and they don’t joke with their drugs.
Now for us, who miraculously are still negative, if you are yet to attain 100% condom use like me, because my brain seems to stop working when I see a clean, shaved, cute, pert ass, maybe you should join me and do these:
1. Don’t discriminate against people living with HIV. In fact, I prefer to date somebody living with HIV whose viral load is undetectable, because it is almost impossible to get infected by him. This approach may be difficult for those who are not health workers because one then has to ensure a quarterly check the viral load and maybe keep a chart of their drug intake. Yah baby, a relationship is serious business, and you need to sow before you can reap. Lol! These methods work as far as your partner keeps taking his drugs.
2. PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Every drug has its side effect, even paracetamol, likewise PrEP. With this drug, you are 92-97% protected from being infected, even if you are a bottom. This method is very effective and I am honestly advising every negative who is sexually active to commence it. And it’s free, especially for Abuja residents, just contact me.
3. Condom Use. While the correct and consistent use of condom cannot be overemphasized, I am honestly not morally worthy to advise anyone on this because I do fail woefully intermittently. It’s advisable to always use condoms because not only does it offer protection against HIV, it also has multiple purposes such as protection against STIs, hepatitis and it ensures clean sex. (*wink-wink*) Since I know this does not always work for me, I kinda keep very low profile (as regards sexual activity) and row with one person at a time. And who knows, I may have acquired some immunity because I’m a doctor. LOL!
In conclusion, I encourage those of us who are negative to try to tailor your lives to the abovementioned tidbits. None is foolproof but have been proven to reduce incident transmissions. And for those who are positive, please make your drug your best friend because that is what it is. The day you start playing with your medication is the day it starts failing you. Fuck well but fuck wisely.
Written by Simba