One Year Later

One Year Later

I fell in love with the word ‘paradox’ when I came across it in Piers Anthony’s Incarnation series. It is continuously used for the Chronos, the Incarnation of Time, and the limits of his office in trying to change the past. Having adopted the pseudonym, a lot of times, I wonder if I didn’t choose the name aptly, or whether the idea that my life in totality is more Irony than Paradox. This month, this week, will be a year and some I tested positive to HIV and started on my ARVs.

I thought I was strong when I actually wondered what living with the virus would be like and wished it on myself. Now, I realize I’m the weakest of humans, and maybe the stupidest of the species, to have been confident in my strength. In this one year, my mind has been in a turmoil of emotions, foremost of them is regret. I really wonder what I was thinking. Did I think Nigeria would have become more accepting of people of my sexuality and status? A whole year in which my insecurities have been laid bare, taking on a form that best mirrors my stupidity. I expect at this point to get the clichéd responses of “having HIV is not the end of the world” to this bleak perspective. I have the perfect rebuttal: Living with HIV is the end of the world. The least of the pains your status gives you, if you are pretty much observant, is that feeling of “maybe my life would be so much simpler with no HIV to worry over”. And there’s also that constant feeling of disappointment you have brought on your head and family. My worst nightmare now is having my family realize I am positive, and in the past few weeks, I have this nagging feeling that they will notice soon. This brings me back to my paradox story.

If I take my medications, I will die. If I don’t, I will still die. That fact has been more glaring in the past weeks. I am registered in a hospital where I am not required to bring in any guarantor to assure them that I will take my medications. That privacy is what made me sign up with them in the first place. I started my meds because I was informed my CD4 count was less than 350. The next month, when I ran tests again, the doctor was so surprised I had started the drugs so early because my CD4 count had shot up to “above 500”. Exactly how much above 500, I never asked. The next test I would run, my CD4 count was still above 500. This time, I wanted to know the exact amount. At this point, I was in full panic mode. I was beginning to be afraid my body was developing a resistance to the medication. I had never missed my dosage. Although there were a couple of times I’d be staring at the clock, waiting for 11 pm (which is when I take my combination therapy drug), and then I’d sleep off with my eyes glued to the clock, to wake within two hours and using it immediately. The first time that happened, I had broken down in tears at the futility of my effort at struggling to stay alive and how the witches from my village had finally cornered me. I had called the doctor and this man who worked at the clinic. They both allayed my fears when I told them I had used the drug immediately I woke up.

Anyway, I got to know from a visiting doctor that the “above 500” results from earlier was actually 610 and the next was 507. I had dropped 103 in about 4 months. The visiting doctor was quite shocked. Not as pained as I was. I had stopped taking Septrin in the second month because of the high CD4 count and wasn’t required to keep taking them, but on seeing the results, I demanded I be restarted on the Septrin. And that was when I started hounding the hospital for the viral load test. I have been wondering what changes in my lifestyle may have resulted in the reduction. Is it the fact that I re-use my shaving stick (I know it is only N50, but I am terrified of using a new blade on my skin. Those things can be terribly sharp and I ensure I clean after each use with alcohol)?

My blood sample was taken last month. As I type this, I do not know what my fate is. I had been told that the results would take a month because the hospital I signed up in didn’t have the facilities and would need to take the sample to another hospital. The ‘one month’ lapsed when I went in for my last drug refill and there was no result. I was very upset. How could I keep using medications I wasn’t sure were working anymore? I had slammed the door to the consulting room in the face of their “don’t worry, just keep using the drugs” cajolery, after picking my prescription form. I felt so betrayed. These were the same set of people I had shared my fears with, that I’d talked to about how I believe I got infected, the dizzying spells and nasty stomach cramps I experience, the exams I had failed or barely passed, the personal struggles with taking that ‘anti-tuberculosis’ drug (I had been quite adamant about not taking too many pills at once).

As I sit down to type, I wonder why I should have felt so betrayed. I wasn’t supposed to be a stranger to betrayal. I mean, the guy who I thought was my boyfriend went ahead to sleep around, without protection, and got me infected. His story is so much more pathetic because he is in denial. Two months after I had told him about my status and nagged him to get tested (which he had reported was positive), he informed me he would be getting married. The conversation I had had with him went along these lines:

Him:       Hope you are ok

Me:        I’m fine. How are you?

Him:       I’m good, just checking on you.

Me:        Thanks

Him:       I’m getting married

Me:        Hmm. Have you told her of your status?

Him:       No

I was livid at this point. I struggled against a million crazy things to say to him.

Me:        How do you intend to have sex without infecting her? You will always use condoms, right?

Him:       LOL! No now. There are ways

Me:        What ways please?

Him:       If I do withdrawal method, I won’t infect her.

At this point, I began to regret even more intensely that I had given my body and time to the fool. What follows after is a bit graphic. Suffice to say, ‘Him’ didn’t send me any more messages for a long time. The next time I would hear from him, a month or two later, it was to tell me that he had been lying earlier when he told me he had tested positive to the virus and that he was negative. I replied that I was happy to hear that, and that it reduced the chances I had contracted the virus sexually (which is relatively easier for me to bear psychologically) and asked him to never contact me again. I subsequently blocked him and deleted his number. I was quite right in my assessment of sadness, because from then on, I started wondering where I had gone and contracted the virus. It took the concerted efforts of Pink Panther and my doctors to bring me back from the chasm of depression. At this point, I will say I support fully St. Max’s dislike for hoes and Trystham’s disdain for MGMs and Bisexuals and the potential risks they pose for their spouses.

In one of Temi-D’s posts, he mentioned how his sex drive reduced with the knowledge of his status. I felt his pain. My libido has been on a constant low, I might soon have to claim asexuality. I’m so scared I will unknowingly infect someone sexually. Dear Temi-D, I also wonder if getting any closer to God has helped you.

Recently, a friend left for the UK. I was so sad and cried for many nights. He is the only one who knows about both my status and sexuality. He had become my emotional support and I felt his going was the loss of my lifeline, like the loss of a personal property and I still feel the pain acutely even as I write this. I know he will return changed. He encouraged me to write down my thoughts. This is only an abridged version of the whole happenings of the year. I am just too lazy to type.

I wonder what the future holds for one such as me – gay and HIV positive. It doesn’t look too bright from where I am sitting. The possibility that I will have no career ladder to climb when medical test results come in (I really wonder if I can bribe the doctors), the terrifying moment when my mother or brother would finally ask, “Why do you keep using this drug(s) at these particular times?” and then, I get to be treated ‘specially’: “Here is your engraved plate, cup and spoon. I had it specially ordered for you from Saki in Oyo State.” (I’m sorry, Bobby). I wonder if my family would ever understand. On the flip side, before seeing the care attendant, my vitals were checked and okayed; plus, I’d gained a little weight. After the episode, I started wondering if the weight gain wasn’t ‘the deep breath before the plunge’.

I’d wished to have the knowledge of what living with HIV feels like, but I’ve come to realize with shocking clarity that I do not have to live someone’s pain to know what they go through.

Dear God, dear Santa, it is another Christmas soon. I have lived it. It’s a headache. It’s a struggle. It’s a shame (call it positive living or whatever you will). And I do not like it (though in my quest to find HIV positive people, I have seen crazy people who crave having the virus). It’s a terrifying feeling that hollows you out with fear and regrets. Please take this away from me.

Or at least, make a cure happen fast.

Written by Paradox

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71 Comments

  1. ken
    December 20, 05:12 Reply

    Its so easy to forget how lucky we are, especially me that gets depressed easily over certain domestic struggles. Reading someone else’s health challenges sometimes makes one grateful for the little things in life.
    I think that when it comes to HIV, what kills the most is loneliness. Thank God for the internet that helps people pour their heart out. At least to relieve some of the psychological burden. We all have to be very careful. Especially those who claim to have high libido. It takes just one risky mis-step to condemn your life forever.

    • Uziel
      December 20, 05:23 Reply

      Testing positive to HIV isn’t condemnation.

      • ken
        December 20, 05:27 Reply

        Thats easy to say when u are HIV free. The writer knows exactly what he’s talking about cos he’s living with it. Its not the fact that HIV is a death sentence, its the way it changes your entire existence

        • Uziel
          December 20, 05:40 Reply

          TESTING POSITIVE TO HIV ISN’T A CONDEMNATION.

          I don’t need to live HIV to know. There’s only one true condemnation: certain DEATH. No coming back. Dead dead. So, if you’re breathing, you gotta live. No matter what virus you got, you gotta live. No matter the status of your bank account, you gotta live. No matter what your family thinks of you, you gotta live. You gotta take what life’s thrown at you, and mold it into what you want, or let it consume you, either way, you gotta live.

          You played with that analogy that you feel depressed and think you’re worse off but reading this showed you how thankful you should be. I didn’t want to play that card, but here’s the deal: There are people who didn’t know their status before it got the better of them and they died. There are people who didn’t have the opportunity of treatment because the drugs we have now wasn’t available to them so they died. There are people in the hospital with their limbs chopped off. There are people battling cancer with no money for treatment. Heck, there are people with diseases that’re far worse than HIV. What do you have to say to them? Go and die?

          Testing positive to HIV is not a condemnation.

          • Dubem
            December 20, 05:45 Reply

            This was brilliantly put. Thank you, Uziel! More people, especially those of us living with HIV, should endeavour to have this frame of mind. It’s not easy, but its possible. That’s what my counsellor usually says.

          • ken
            December 20, 06:28 Reply

            I see. Its not a condemnation. It just morbidly changes your life, destroys your relationship with people and puts you in perpetual fear of death and infecting others.

            Pls dont quote me out of context. I am not encouraging pain or depression. All am saying is we should always be grateful wherever we find ourselves. HIV is definitely not the end of life. Infact there are worse diseases out there, diseases for which there is no medication and u have absolutely no control. I have 2 family members that died from alzheimers and cancer. Those are nasty ways to go. So pls find something or someone else to throw anger at, not me. Thanks

          • Maximus
            December 20, 13:00 Reply

            Uziel ??????????????million likes

        • Dennis Macaulay
          December 20, 05:41 Reply

          Ken you used the wrong phrase! HIV does not “condemn your life forever”. That came out morbidly wrong please and I ask that you take it back. It changes your life forever, it affects most of the choices one makes going forward (just like a lot of illnesses) but it does NOT CONDEMN ONE’S LIFE FOREVER!

          Please retract!
          Thank you

          • ken
            December 20, 06:18 Reply

            Em, hell NO! You just defined what condemnation is – changes ur life, lots of illnesses, fear u can drop dead anytime, fear of infecting others, discrimination from family and friends..

            That is the exact definition of condemnation. I aint patronizing no one, am not gonna sound cheezy or politically correct just to make people (who by the way are not living with the virus) feel warm n cuddly with themselves, and I CERTAINTLY WONT RETRACT SHIT. If u cant stand the heat, leave the kitchen!

            • Uziel
              December 20, 06:31 Reply

              If you can’t keep up with the heat, leave or die trying? What makes you think (we)’re making comments here for your benefit, or our individual selves. You just told someone with a chronic illness that he’s condemned (even when you seem to be confused as to the meaning of condemnation) on a post he made (asking for help?) How do you sleep at night?

              • ken
                December 20, 06:42 Reply

                Honestly am trying desperately not to insult anyone this morning. But pls stop quoting me out of context. Go back and read what I wrote before spewing trash.

                The condemnation I wrote was in a broad context. Dont be twisting words just cos you want to pretend to be nice n intelligent on social media.

                And yes, I sleep just fine. Thank you.

                • Pink Panther
                  December 20, 06:59 Reply

                  Calm down, you two. Bikonu! This post is about encouraging a brother to LIVE! Not about anything else. Jeez! Can we have a discourse without resorting to getting contentious.

              • Pisces
                December 20, 07:33 Reply

                Thank you Uziel for that voltronic stance.

  2. Uziel
    December 20, 05:22 Reply

    This isn’t a death sentence. It is, only if you let it.

    There are lots of factors that affect the CD4 count including stress, diet, exercise and your lifestyle. It would do if you evaluate yourself and reconstruct your psyche to suit your status. It’d help you in the long run.

    You’re not going to die from this. Why? Because tons of people are living with it, for decades. Yes, life is harder now, but you’ll adapt, because that’s what we do as humans. We survive, adapt and thrive.

    I don’t know if you’ve done it, but I encourage that you do a lot of reading about living with hiv. It’ll help prepare you for what’s happening and what’s to coming. You can also join the support group at the hospital. It’s helpful seeing and getting to know other people with the same virus, how they’ve handled things.

    Finally, you should stop beating yourself up. What’s happened, has happened. See this as a learning experience to becoming a better you. Good luck.

  3. Mandy
    December 20, 05:28 Reply

    What a deluded ex-boyfriend you have.

  4. Dennis Macaulay
    December 20, 05:39 Reply

    Okay paradox you need to stop and take a deep breath. I have realised that the bigger battle with HIV is fought in the mind, and the way you are going it’s not the HIV that will be your undoing but your thoughts.

    You need to calm down! You will survive this, you will beat it because like uziel said people are surviving and beating it.

    See there is no guarantee that a negative man will not die also! An old friend slept last week and did not wake up, he had no known health challenges. What you have is a virus which will NOT kill you if you do the right things and take the right steps.

    I fear that you are lonely, I wish you had more friends who will pull you out of the gloom you are in! Depression kills the immune system rapidly and these depressive thoughts you have will make the HIV progress rapidly.

    I wish also that you had a friend who was positive and who will help you through some of the darkness and into the light. You will survive this, people survive it and go on to live productive lives! Your own case will not be different!

    I dunno but can you reach Francis her or Sensei, they are both doctors with experience in managing this and they will help you allay some of your fears.

    Paradox make up your mind to beat this, make up your mind to do everything necessary, everything that it takes to beat this and you will beat it.

    Please win for us please!
    Namaste

  5. Dubem
    December 20, 05:52 Reply

    Paradox, your piece actually brought tears to my eyes.
    Life is a struggle already. When you wake up in the morning in Lagos and go about your day, the grind alone can put you down psychologically. There are men I hear every day in the bus on the way back from work complaining about how they don’t get to spend enough time with their families and how their children don’t even know them anymore. There are women who get caught up in the hustle of making a living that they do not have time to date and meet guys and get wedded, and all this while suffering pressure from family. There’s a saying about the world being a lonely place. This is because it’s filled with lots of lonely people, and not just those of us living with HIV. It is this perceived loneliness that makes it seem like the walls are caving in on you as a HIV poz guy. Do not let it. Life is a struggle, and yours is to stave off any thoughts that will prove detrimental to your psychological health. Most HIV patients don’t get knocked off by their ailment because of what they did or didn’t do concerning their physical health, but by how badly they derailed psychologically.
    It’s been a year now for you of feeling terrible and fearful and regretful and browbeaten. In the next years of your life, give yourself an assignment to live better.

    • Dubem
      December 20, 05:54 Reply

      And your friend is right. Write more. Whenever you are feeling full of all this blackness, dump them in your writing, especially when he is not readily available for you to talk to. Releasing those emotions in writing can be very therapeutic.

      • Nightwing
        December 20, 06:28 Reply

        Or you could just get a playstation 4 with mortal kombat X and call of duty, trust me making other people bleed is very very therapeutic, even though its virtual reality?. *lifts head of latest victim and chuckles*

    • Nightwing
      December 20, 06:34 Reply

      Kd should have a like button seriously I was sorta looking for like but I got reply so here’s the like. ? well normally it’s pointing the other way, but you get me right? This also brought tears to my eyes *accent – Chantel DuBois* Madagascar escape from Europe… I think.

  6. Nightwing
    December 20, 05:58 Reply

    Wow…couldn’t help but get the I’m sad vibe from this, I’m so sorry paradox. Please don’t be depressed or sad or reclusive. All you need is that it’s going to be okay hug and lots of it. I know, we should all get in line hugging and saying “it’s going to be okay” till you get all warm and fuzzy and we’d have makeout, joint masturbation and sex slumber party. You’ll be fine boo. I just know it. ?????. Or we could read comments from past posts on kd and laugh at chizzie, max, dennis, FlyOnTheWall, tef. Just don’t be sad or whatever, cuz I’ll join you. ????

    • Dennis Macaulay
      December 20, 06:06 Reply

      Okay those comment cracked me up!

      Nightwing you are a clown

      Lol

  7. Nightwing
    December 20, 06:24 Reply

    Thank you Dennis, hope it cracks paradox up too. ?

  8. XavierA
    December 20, 06:26 Reply

    Defeat starts in the mind.
    You’ve got to tell yourself, that you won’t just overcome this battle but you will become a better person as a result of it.
    I’d say…
    1. Keep using your tabs.
    2. Maintain a positive mindset.
    3. Pray more too. Prayer has both a soothing and miraculous effect on the soul.
    4. Try to go out more and make valuable contacts.
    5. Most of all, do away with the “Sorry” gown. Embrace life!

    I wish you well Paradox.

  9. papasmurf
    December 20, 07:37 Reply

    I won’t say I understand what U’re going thru, cos I don’t… But as a human being with empathy, I can relate with ur thoughts. As I read thru, lyrics of a song from Glee came to mind:

    “You have more friends than you know.. Some who surround you.. Some you are destined to meet… You’ll have more love in your life… Don’t let go… Take it slow… Give it time… Those who love you the most may need more time to grow… Its gonna be ok… You have more friends than you know”

    All I can say is… You are mucch strronger than you give yourself credit.

  10. Bobby
    December 20, 07:37 Reply

    Paradox honey, what if i tell you it gets easier everyday, only if u let. Would u believe me?
    Honey its xmas. Eat cake, blow condoms aa balloons, dance around ur room naked, watch black porn, wank if the porn is dat hot. Give urself a thrill.
    One thing av realised is most of the times we feel our lives aint going anywhere, if we really look into it,u’ll see its because u expecting someone to come rescue u. Aint nobody got time for that? Everybody has got issues. So dont be that person. You gat this. You just dont know it yet. YOU GAT THIS.

  11. Chizzie
    December 20, 08:11 Reply

    I didn’t finish reading this because it was so sad, and I cannot entertain such sadness in my life right now. Sadness seems to be a common theme with all Paradox’s HIV entries. I don’t know biko. Continue to be sad and gloomy and hopeless all you want. Cause I know people with the virus that don’t seem as annoyingly melancholy as you, but whatever really.

      • keredim
        December 20, 09:14 Reply

        Actually Francis, I saw Chizzie’s comment as showing tough love. Sometimes you need that kick up the butt, to get you out of a melancholic state of mind?

        • Francis
          December 20, 09:32 Reply

          Oh well, from experience I only use the tough love approach when the patient starts playing ten-ten with his/her HIV medications. I tread carefully around it when sadness/loneliness is involved ’cause not having boo sometimes puts me in that mood talk less of someone that has HIV whom most people wouldn’t even approach if they knew before hand.

          • Chizzie
            December 20, 09:45 Reply

            I mean its fine if you are sad for the first couple of weeks or months, everyone would be, but for a year? It just shows that the main problem isn’t the virus itself but the person. Some ppl enjoy being sad, and that’s fine, you can be play sad Sally all you want but don’t rain on someone else’s parade with your prolonged sadness.

            If you aren’t ready to get over it a year later, then keep your sadness to yourself. I certainly don’t want to read about it again

  12. Kenny
    December 20, 08:19 Reply

    Does having hiv prevent one from climbing the corporate ladder? I’m genuinely curious please

    • Keredim
      December 20, 08:33 Reply

      Yes, in Nigeria.

      It doesn’t in Europe. Firstly your health record is confidential.
      Secondly, you can bring a discrimination suit on your employer if you can prove you have been passed up for promotion due to them knowing of your status.

      And if you are a surgeon ,they would find you a desk job (after a hefty compensation if you got infected through work) or some form of academic position.

      • Francis
        December 20, 08:53 Reply

        @Keredim Fortunately GEJ did some good by signing the anti HIV discrimination bill which protects peeps. The Koko now is getting our useless judiciary system to enforce the life out of it.

        @Paradox your writing got me laughing and sad at the same time. Loneliness seems to be doing a number on you and that’s the major hurdle most HIV patients I’ve encountered face. Once they break through that it’s mostly smooth sailing for them. Hang in there man. The likes of Bisi Alimi have been where you are and look at where he is today (forget his current location. It’s possible in Naija if you put your mind to it). I only wish you could access viral load testing so you’d stop fussing over your CD4 count as that test can be misleading.

        • keredim
          December 20, 09:17 Reply

          …and you really think the bill will mitigate against our cultural instincts??

        • Dennis Macaulay
          December 20, 09:25 Reply

          Francis that law doesn’t do shit for you! Lemme run the MO by you!

          You apply for a job

          You are shortlisted

          You write aptitude test

          You pass and shortlisted for interview

          You finish the interview in flying colors

          The job is yours, just remaining medicals

          Your HIV test (which you weren’t informed that it would be conducted btw) comes back positive

          HR emails you
          “Sorry you did not make the cut, we wish you success in your future endeavors”

          That right there is how HIV screws you in the butt career wise!

          However there are companies (mostly multinationals and a few banks) that it doesn’t matter to. Where I work for instance code of conduct is in line with international best practices and no discrimination whatsoever is allowed to thrive!

          So it’s not entirely hopeless

          • Francis
            December 20, 09:39 Reply

            Wait! They collect blood sample and run HIV test without telling you?! For real? Chai! See gold mine.

            We probably need laws prohibiting HIV testing in occupations where it’s not considered a risk.

            • Dennis Macaulay
              December 20, 10:13 Reply

              Welcome to Nigeria! All you obodo oyibo shildren!

              They do medicals for you; check your vital signs, blood pressure, heart health etc!

              Then they draw your blood sample with nobody saying anything about HIV!

              The thing is that you don’t even know that’s why you are not offered the job. Nobody says anything about it, “you just don’t make the cut”

    • Slim
      December 20, 09:46 Reply

      Yes Ken, I am a victim of such. Already changing career path bcos I cant stand another episode of it all.

  13. keredim
    December 20, 08:36 Reply

    Paradox, I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I know that if you choose to live, you will.

    Onye kwe, chi ya ekwe.

  14. Nightwing
    December 20, 08:43 Reply

    But really if I knew you personally paradox, I’ll slap you silly and then hug you, works ?, someone please do that to him/her whichever the case. ?

  15. Delle
    December 20, 08:57 Reply

    It’s so depressing having someone who is infected have such negativity about his condition. Paradox, having HIV doesn’t mark the end of your time on earth (I know you’d have heard this countless times, add mine to the list *smiles*), being positive doesn’t mean you can’t live positively. It’s no news that a HIV infected person can be treated, although no cure yet, but you can live a life better and as fulfilled (if not more) than those without the virus.
    You shouldn’t feel that way, Paradox. Remember, your disposition also has a thing to play on how well your treatment would work. What has happened, has…live with it, live through it and never by it.

    Honey, it’s fact that a HIV infected man sleeping with a negative man undergoing prEP, have a healthier sexual relationship than any other. There really is no need to be pessimistic, hunnay. If it were in the 80’s, then we’d be saying something else, but with all these medical development, HIV isn’t a death sentence.

    OAN
    In your entry, second paragraph, line 2, you said: ‘…what living with the virus would be like and WISHED it on myself.’ That got me really confused. Why would you ‘wish’ that on yourself in the first place? Who wishes to be infected with any disease at all? Hmm

    • Pink Panther
      December 20, 13:02 Reply

      Delle, for better understanding of that phrase, read his first entry. ‘The Wish I Got For Christmas’.

  16. Mr. Fingers
    December 20, 09:48 Reply

    I think paradox is still trying the get used to his status. For some 1year maybe too soon expecially when he is living in isolation.

    I can’t say I know what u are feeling right now Bro, but u need to be strong.

    Meanwhile there is a law in Nigeria which makes it a crime If someone knowingly infects another with a disease. I know someone on this post has already made up his mind that the judiciary is “useless”, but u might be saving someone else, a loved one inclusive, when u report people like that.

  17. Slim
    December 20, 10:04 Reply

    Parodox can you just give yourself the permission to live on.what has happened has happened. Pls spread your wings and fly again.
    Yes , one pill daily , routine check and other changes that come with diagnosis is not such a smooth ride but in it all you have to find a way to always encourage yourself to move on. Don’t let your status define.
    One Love !

  18. sage
    December 20, 10:14 Reply

    Dear paradox, it all lies in the mind. If they could survive, you can and much more live life to its fullest. Never let yourself be down casted again. Always Know that there are people out there Who love you, even the way you are. #lookingforwardtoabetterparadox. Love you dear, muahhhh

  19. Teflondon
    December 20, 11:47 Reply

    Wow! This got me. I can relate to this on several levels as something close to HIV happened to me recently. It’s unexplainable. I really thought my life was over. You know it’s easy for people that don’t have it or go through the experience give sweet advises. You can only emphatize but can’t really know what it feels except you have it.
    I had HIV for a week (Metaphorically) it really felt like a death sentence but at the end I found solace in my God and he took charge.
    Sometimes God lets us go through certian things to draw us closer to him. Which includes having HIV and other terminal diseases. He could be that jealousy at times. It defies logic I know, for someone who (claims to) love us but that’s God for you. You never understand his ways but be rest assured at the end of it all he means well for you, for us.
    Trust him. He will deliver you.
    My Advise
    Seek God wholeheartedly and use your drugs.

  20. Dickson Clement
    December 20, 12:40 Reply

    I am currently serving in an area that boasts of the highest hiv incidence in the country! I don’t consult until I have ur RVS result! If you want to keep ur status to urself, it’s ur right. It is also my right as a physician to decide not to consult till I know ur status.

    • Francis
      December 20, 12:51 Reply

      Bros dust your Hippocratic oath and read it well again. You’d be amazed at the amount of “crap” we as doctors have to siddon look at.

      No play with your license simply because law suits are not common in Nigeria.

    • Jeova Sanctus Unus
      December 20, 13:21 Reply

      Mr Physician, we have a billion infections/medical conditions that have nothing to do with HIV. Thank you.

  21. Maximus
    December 20, 13:14 Reply

    I said it before that HIV is a mental illness which affects both positive and negative people. Your story is sad, but I think you’re over-thinking things. A year is too long for someone to still be as depressed as this. Your life is not over unless you want it to be.
    Take your drugs, live a healthy lifestyle and you’ll get to live longer than most people your age. I’m very optimistic that a cure is on the way, HIv hides in some undetectable areas in the body that drugs don’t get to, that’s why it has been hard to completely eliminate. Until then, just live your life. The virus cannot kill you, only you can do that all by yourself.

  22. simba
    December 20, 13:53 Reply

    Mr Paradox there are millions of people ready to help u and never judge u. There are people ready to be professional,imbibing all the medical ethics and etiquette even here on KD. We all have one thing tht is killing us gradually,HIV,family pressure, unemployment, under employment, no love,heart breaks. So take a deep breath and like a DIVA stand firm,own ur ground,better urself, and keep moving forward like every other person. I wish u well bro.

  23. kacee
    December 20, 15:25 Reply

    Omg i’m so sorry Paradox *hugs* wish i could talk to you. please be brave I know it won’t be easy *hugs*

  24. McGray
    December 20, 16:44 Reply

    Ken is totally on point so i dnt knw wat dis drama is all about. I hv imagined being HIV+ and to tell u d truth i shrieked. He was just critical and wat he said was ntn but d truth. If u r HIV+ u hv so many fears, although there are lots of diseases more dangerous than HIV yet the word ‘HIV’ gives people d fear of their life. So many struggles and challenges. Tell someone who claims he loves u u r HIV+ and watch his reaction and tel someone u hv hepatitis and watch his reaction too. People shake and tremble with fear whenever the word HIV comes out. Seriously d day ppl on dis blog stop building castle in d air den they will be doing a lota gud to themselves.

    • Pink Panther
      December 20, 20:50 Reply

      But what’s building castles in the air about asking a HIV poz person to stay positive and not dwell on the darkness of HIV?

  25. Oturugbeke!
    December 20, 18:44 Reply

    OMG! what a coincidence! I tested my HIV status today after over a year of checking it last.. NEGATIVE. Felt so relieved and restocked my stash of condoms with 5 new packets. Safe sex always #underlinethat

  26. Oturugbeke!
    December 20, 19:19 Reply

    Okay I apologize for my comment above. Sounded so self centred. Sincerely, I had tears in my eyes after reading this… It was really really harrowing, and no body but Paradox himself will understand. Bro stay strong… I know it may nor be easy. I recently donwloaded a collection of videos about PLWHA for project I’m working on. It made me realize just how hard life with HIV is… Not to mention complicated. A patient on one of the clips said he was currently, on 9 drugs and had been resistant for over 3 years, but faith had been keeping him despite developing aids. My dear paradox, I beg you to be strong, don’t tell your folks, because it might worsen your predicament, considering the typical Nigerian mentality. Please stop stressing, exercise and eat lots of fruits. I’m almost 80% sure if you tone down on the worrying your CD4 count will go up. Whenever you worry, just remind yourself that at least you found out early and you’re also handling it….. Now imagine the millions of Nigerians that will only discover it when it has deteriorated to aids. Please take care of yourself °hugs°

  27. Temi Cole
    December 20, 21:53 Reply

    Hey Paradox,

    So. It’s been 10 months and a few days since I became aware of my status. And so far, it’s been one hell of a ride with plenty bumps and curves along the way.

    I’ve been where you are even though it was for a short period. I totally feel you but you need to get out of the rut. No one can get you out. You have to do it yourself. And believe me… you can! When I have my down days, I remember that there are several others who are going through this same phase. There are also several other people with challenges greater than a positive status and they triumph daily. I want to be part of those people. I believe that my journey will help someone someday. So I do it for that ‘someone’.

    I’ve realised that my problems and life still pretty much remained the same before February this year. I still encounter the same challenges and obstacles. If anything, I’m more concious of things I took for granted in the past.

    My point here is… being positive shouldn’t mar or deter you from going out to be and achieve all you want from life. It’s all still within your grasp. There are several Bisi Alimis and Kenny Badmuses in the world. And you can be a shinning example of what it is to be a positive person living an examplary life. But you need to get up, and work towards it… it will get better… one day at a time… but u need to put in your own work too…

    Next year, I’d be joining a support group for Positive gay men in Nigeria. I hope to carve a smaller chapter/network so that people have an avenue to share and support one another. It’s one of the things I feel are still lacking and will go a long way for all of us. If it succeeds, hope to get you and everyone interested on board.

    Please feel free to reach me through Pinkie if you ever need to talk. I’m always ready to.

    I’m rooting for you man!!

    • TEIKA BONKA
      December 21, 12:38 Reply

      Kindly let us be aware once the support group comes alive.

  28. Eddie
    December 21, 09:31 Reply

    Finally a support group for us POZ folks…

  29. Stranger
    December 21, 11:14 Reply

    Are HIV drugs free? I really don’t know cos when people say ‘don’t tell your parents you’re infected’ and you’re unemployed, I wonder how one is expected to get the money for the drugs and constant checkup.

  30. PeyPey
    December 21, 18:58 Reply

    Hey guys,

    I have been positive for 6years and I’ve died and come back to life figuratively speaking and I am still living. I refused taking medication till I delved into the near AIDS stage (don’t cuss me out); horrible CD4. I was searching for a miraculous healing which never happened.

    Now my main concern is I started my meds this last Oct and I still reuse shaving sticks. Does that reinfect me every time?

    Also I have never seen my viral load result but fully aware of my CD4 count. What’s the difference between both results and their significance?

    Eagerly expecting responses.

    • Francis
      December 21, 19:27 Reply

      Reinfection will likely occur if you’re sharing blades with someone who’s also HIV positive.

      Viral load checks to see how much of the virus is circulating in your blood stream while CD4 check how many T cells your body currently has to enable it fight off infections. Viral Load is a better measure of how well your medication is working as CD4 can be affected by various factors.

      From experience I’ve seen patients with declining CD4 count but excellent viral load who are still doing just fine. Unfortunately a handful of them have issues with common cold etc because of that low CD4.

      It’s good you’ve faced reality and started taking your meds. I beg you to stick to them for your own good. If you play with them you risk making the HIV resistant to the medication and reducing the amount of medication available to manage the condition.

    • Bisi Alimi
      December 22, 13:05 Reply

      Dear Peypey,
      1- I dont know where people get the idea of shaving sticks from. Please this has nothing to do with HIV. I have seen it twice here and I think it is important we have the best knowledge about HIV and infection.

      Once you are infected you can not be reinfected again, so it doesnt matter what type of shaving stick you are using or if you are reusing shaving stick.

      However, there have been cases albeit, very few cases of reinfection. This has to do with types and not subtypes. There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. The second one is the most common and it has many subtypes that doesnt really mean much apart from the fact that it is being used to know the population of the virus (different race and different region of the world have different subtype of the virus and this is known as community virus). HIV-1 however is not common at all and it is concentrated in some areas of Africa. It has resistance to some of the drugs available now (talk about white people saving white people’s lives since for ever). So unless this happens, really you have nothing to be afraid of. Even most times, two HIV positive people in relationship need not worry about using condom. I mean, you are infected already, no more infection to worry about unless other sexually transmitted diseases.

      2- Your second question is about the difference between viral load and DC4 counts.
      Viral load; simply means the quantity of the virus in the blood. This is measure in viral load. It is not 100% accurate, but it is a marker of how the drug is working. HIV drugs, dont cure you of HIV, but it makes the virus inactive and hence they can’t reproduce and if they can’t reproduce, their number will go up.

      CD4: This is the number of your immune cells. They are also counter using markers. They higher your immune cells, the more effective the drug is working and the less the number of the virus in your blood.

      500 and above CD4 is seen as the best. Though I didnt start treatment until my CD4 was less than 100 (something that is really bad and I think we should not encourage this. I am lucky not to have come down with other opportunistic infections). My CD4 didnt get across the 500 mark until this year. That does not mean the drug has not been working, it just means it my immune system has been left alone for long to fight the virus without the support of pills.

      So a high CD4 is very good, a very high viral load is very bad. So even if your CD4 is low and your viral load is also low, there is nothing really to worry about, you are doing great, it is just taking the immune system to recover.

      For more updates please visit: http://i-base.info/qa/category/cd4-and-viral-load/page/3

  31. Bisi Alimi
    December 22, 12:39 Reply

    Dear Paradox,
    Thats a very nice name to capture your piece. Wow I was wrapped in the beauty of your writing and the way you tell such powerful story. Thank you for sharing.

    I have missed this post and thanks to the team at KD who brought my attention to it and I hoping that you will and others will get to read my comment.

    In no patronising way, I was on this same journey 11 years ago. I had started working in HIV campaign at that time and I had the privilege of knowing. But it was shocking when the chicken came home to roost and it was my time to be told I am positive.

    I mean, I had just lost my best friend 2 years before, I was having a whirlwind moment. I saw all the signs of the virus all over my body, but I lacked the will to go and test. It was one of the most darkest period of my life.

    Like so many gay men of my time, it was more about who do we tell? The gay community in Lagos then was riddled with hate and stigma, and then there is blaming game going on within the healthcare system.

    I was just practically waiting to die. I will be honest, many times after my diagnosis I attempted suicide. I had no reason to live but the promise I made to my best friend on his death bed.

    I have lost so many friends since he died and just two days ago, I got a call from another friend who told me a friend just died.

    The situation has changed. But I know it is easier for me to say, living in London with the best healthcare in the world and trying to paint the picture as rosy. But I am not just making it up, I was there at the peak of the AIDS crisis in Nigeria, I buried friends, I washed friends and I shed loads of tears for friends, but that in a way has changed. I understand this is not your reality or the reality of the so many gay men in Nigeria. But believe me honestly, things have changed.

    They have changed because many of us learnt to pick ourselves up and get things going. Yes we wallow in self pity as it is expected of us but we also know self pity can only get us from the bed to the sofa, it wont solve the problems.

    You raised some very technical issues in your letter. First was about CD4. I am deeply surprised that the Dr. didnt tell you anything about CD4 count fluctuation http://i-base.info/qa/115 which is very normal. According to the WHO, 350 is the starting point for treatment in developing countries. Though in most countries in Europe and the US, they are using 500 as the starting point. So being at 501 is not really something serious. Yes it is okay to have concerns, and your doctor should have told you things that could have accounted for the drop in CD4, of which it has nothing with what are doing or not doing.

    Having panic over HIV diagnosis it not so much about the impact of the virus, but what we have been made to believe. Like I said earlier, I was diagnosed 11 years ago. I decided to come out as positive in 2010. It was a long road for me to come to accepting the fact that this is my life and I have to accept me for it.

    I have come a long way and you will come a long way. I dont see any correlations between taking your drugs and dying and not taking it and dying. We will all die, it is the reality of living, but we have to be sure that the life we have is well lived. You sounded as a very passionate man and I wish you can use this to be a champion.

    This year for World AIDS day, I did a video that I will like to share with you; http://www.liquidproductions.co.uk/video/myhivmyrules/. It tells the story of people who have raised two fingers to HIV.

    You should never, never let it undermine you or your potential. It is just a very tiny little virus and it can only have the power we give it.

    I know you will say; its easier for you to say. I admit that, but I made it easier. Life is a canvass and what we paint on it is what we say. Its going to be nights of forgetting, nights of tears and fears and nights of doubt, but the morning will come.

    I have told a partner who gives no fuss about my status and who loves me sincerely and I have always been open about that too all the people I have dated.

    Please, like Aliyah (of blessed memory) once said, “dust it off and try again”. Life is for the living and it is joyful as well.

    If you want to talk to me personally, I will be happy to call or pick your call. Please email me at “kitofairies@gmail.com

    Bisi

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