HEALTH CENTRE: Getting Tested for HIV

HEALTH CENTRE: Getting Tested for HIV

I don’t claim to know what or how it feels to have HIV. The closest I’ve ever come to being affected by it was when my ex had herpes zoster and lied to me that he had HIV. I remember vividly that then, my mind was made up and I wasn’t going nowhere. I had found a good thing and I wasn’t letting go easily (though the nigga was probably trying to use it as an exit strategy instead of telling me he had been delivert and had found babe to marry).

HIV is like every other chronic ailment out that such as Diabetes and Hypertension. The major problem people seem to have with it is the loneliness and stigma attached to it, as most individuals would rather not date or relate with someone who is HIV positive out of fear of being infected. This has led to many lying about their statuses and worsening their current situation and ruining the lives of others.

I’ve decided to start writing something on HIV and other STDs every now and then. Hopefully each and every one of us will learn a thing or two from them while you guys would also enlighten me on stuff you’ve experienced.

GETTING TESTED FOR HIV

Getting tested for HIV can be nerve-racking especially when you know you’ve just not been on your best behavior. LOL. Still it has to be done. Like other ailments, early detection is key to proper treatment and management. Late detection can be disastrous especially in our region.

HIV testing in Nigeria is free of charge, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some facilities charge a fee for it. *sighs* Unless you are sure of what you’re getting yourself into, do not skip the pre-counseling session as it prepares you for an unfortunate positive result.

By default, HIV tests in Nigeria are run serially i.e. if the first test is negative, there’s no need to test you further with other HIV testing kits. From experience, I highly recommend getting tested with at least two kits. These kits are sometimes prone to error due to past expiry date, poor lab technique, bad kit storage methods etc.

As a rule, if after interrogating a recently diagnosed HIV positive patient, I see no clear source of infection or the patient is having issues coming to terms with the result, I always ask them to go repeat the test in other facilities. This helps most times to put the patient’s mind at rest. Lord knows I have seen patients who were erroneously placed on HIV drugs.

As a rule, if you test negative for HIV despite exposure, it’s recommended that you run the test again 3 months and 6 months later, after which you can conclude that you’re actually negative. It’s expected that you do not engage in risky business during these six months. Personally, that means 6 months of celibacy (forget condom business. I’m sure by now you all know it has a 2 – 15% failure rate, depending on various factors).

NOTE: It’s expected that by six months after exposure to HIV, your body has definitely created antibodies against HIV. Free routine HIV testing kits check for antibodies only. If there are no antibodies, the test kit will read negative. There have been random cases of patients who don’t form antibodies against HIV until way past 6 months. If you want to be super sure about your negative status, request for a p24 antigen test as well.

The p24 antigen test costs a fee which varies a lot depending on your location and unfortunately, it is not always readily available in even teaching hospitals. The p24 antigen test can detect the antigen of the HIV virus before your body starts forming antibodies against them. It is only useful within the first few weeks of infection sha. Once your body starts forming adequate antibodies, the relevancy of p24 antigen drops.

WARNING! p24 antigen is part of the HIV tests used in screening blood donated for transfusion. Unfortunately, like I mentioned earlier, it is not always available in hospitals, so some hospitals skip it (The Naija healthcare system is a HOT mess).

Personally if I or any loved one is going to get a blood transfusion in this country, I’m so asking them to go on 28 days HIV post exposure prophylaxis. Better safe than sorry, as I have seen quite number of patients whose most likely source of infection was blood transfusion done mostly either after childbirth or during surgery.

This is all I have for the first installment of this series. Hopefully I haven’t succeeded in confusing most of you. Questions are very much welcome in the comment section.

P.S: Shout out to D.M for pushing me a bit to start my own contribution to the site. Hopefully other doctors will hop on board soon.

Written by Francis

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    • Francis
      January 26, 18:32 Reply

      Thanks man. ? Glad to see this one didn’t leave you feeling depressed. ?

  1. Colossus
    January 26, 08:53 Reply

    Thanks for the update, keep it coming.

    • Francis
      January 26, 18:33 Reply

      You’re welcome. Will do by God’s grace ?

  2. Dennis Macaulay
    January 26, 09:23 Reply

    Yay!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thankyou!

    Have I said Thankyou for doing this?

    Please keep it coming!

    Namaste

  3. Mandy
    January 26, 10:01 Reply

    And so the doctor came to KD, complete with his bedside manners.

    • Francis
      January 26, 18:30 Reply

      ??? Bedside manners dey over necessary for certain health conditions. Thanks man ?

  4. simba
    January 26, 10:54 Reply

    Continue the good work Francis.. As I always say, people should not go to roadside labs for HIV test. Because they are not equipped to support anybody,medically or psychologically. Keep it up Bro,.. Am not gifted in the art of writing,so Amma just keep it here

    • Peak
      January 26, 12:16 Reply

      Emmm **clears throat** I am sort of guilty of all that road side lab business.
      I have equally ran tests in private hospitals too and they don’t do all that pre-counseling thing either.

      A friend took me to an MSM clinic and I ended up being diagnosed wrongly (but their precounseling is off the charts). At the end of the day, one can’t help but wonder where and who are the right people to go to. I think it would be nice to get a directory of some sort where one can get medical advice/help without questioning the level of competence and reliability of outcomes ( if possible)

      @Francis, please the bit about condoms and 2-15% failure rate. Care to explain further? I know that condoms do break in the course of intercourse, but I don’t understand what you mean? 15% is quite a lot from where I am sitting and I can be quite paranoid about things like this. So do me a favour and expound on those numbers.

      • Francis
        January 26, 18:07 Reply

        @Peak Condoms dey get expiry date. The material starts to break down past this date. Some pipul don’t use/choose the right size of condom thereby increasing the risk of the condom breaking or slipping off during sex. For those that like brutal sex, the condom could tear visibly or invisibly especially if lots of lube isn’t used.

        Condom micro leakage dey too…..just as straight folks puncture condoms, the gays do it too out of wickedness of the highest order (sorry to boost your paranoia. We dey the same boat). Just dey carry your own condom around. Lol

        • Max 2.0
          January 26, 19:26 Reply

          @Francis, your paranoia is on level 399.. ??

  5. Promise4all
    January 26, 12:56 Reply

    I was actually celibate in my first year @Futo resuming 2nd year but haven’t found a place to screen for HIV b4 the health centers I was able to go to in Lagos, don’t have the kits and I dread general hospitals. I would so much love to get tested b4 I start my school escapades.

    • Francis
      January 26, 18:12 Reply

      @Promise4all There should be a teaching hospital in Owerri na. Just ask around. You’re better off with govt hospitals as most of them still have links with NGOs so they are still following normal procedure. Best of luck as you start your new year ?

      • Promise4all
        January 27, 04:51 Reply

        Thanks a lot. I re-checked the PHC closest to me here in Lag on my way out and a 5-10 minutes test was carried out, to which I tested negative.

  6. Canis VY Majoris
    January 26, 13:01 Reply

    *Sigh* It’s perplexing how such an article can so effortlessly vanquish my libido. I’m bookmarking this, so I can knock myself back to sense whenever Agent Horny comes recruiting. Had a scare early this year and I never want to feel that way ever again.

    Also, providing infos on competent clinics/test laps would help a great deal. I think.

    #FirstTimeCommenter btw.
    #HappyNewYearKDians.

    • Francis
      January 26, 18:18 Reply

      Welcome man. Unfortunately I don’t have a list of competent clinics where one can get tested but like Simba suggested, those with ties to NGOs and the likes of USAID them are the best. Even then they can still make mistakes thus the need to retest elsewhere if you’re not comfortable with the diagnosis you’ve been given.

  7. bruno
    January 26, 14:25 Reply

    great post francis. every post on hiv here is literally saving lives. keep up the awareness guys.

  8. iamcoy
    January 26, 14:50 Reply

    Well done Francis.. Nicely put!

  9. simba
    January 26, 14:55 Reply

    U can Google clinics supported by USAID on ACTION PLUS UP… they ‘ll probably give better services than privately run facilities,and they are more than 100 in Nigeria. It’s an American Based project so they should be MSM friendly. Back to wrong diagnosis,it’s can’t be eliminated but reduced. Even in USA ,one could be mis diagnosed based on several reasons to simple carelessness. But proper centers, who go further to do Viral load and etc definitely can’t go wrong. Also guys it dosent hurt to get ‘re tested at more than one facility to rule out error..

    • Francis
      January 26, 18:27 Reply

      @Simba “It’s an American Based project so they should be MSM friendly.”

      They should be but unfortunately most of them are not. Na so I siddon with one of my colleagues for clinic and he started yarning shit about gay pipul with their gay marriage wahala.

      Americans just bring their money and leave the hiring process to Nigerians and these ones in turn never factor in hiring pipul who can service (pardon the pun) everyone without being judgemental. I may be wrong but attention to MSMs isn’t factored in when hiring doctors unless maybe in big cities like Lagos, Abuja etc.

      Thanks for the compliment by the way ?

  10. Itz_Mztur JOJOARMANI
    January 26, 17:13 Reply

    and av been waiting for a DR on KD, please wheres aunty pinky? i need to gt through to francis

  11. Francis
    January 26, 18:36 Reply

    @Bruno, @iamcoy et @Tobee thanks guys ??

  12. Michaels
    January 26, 19:14 Reply

    Thanks for the info, not easy to live with that. pls I have a problem, its kinda personal tho.

  13. Oturugbeke!
    January 27, 01:11 Reply

    Thanks for this… I will appreciate if you talk about the less known things a lot of D prople arr not conversant with like the dangers of brushing before sex, care whilst fingering and rinming. Sometimes I get toooo rigid during sex, paranoia nor dey gree me freee body at times. Having sex whilst ruminating if we kissed too deeply or wether the condom is coming off and semen seeping into my anus… So perplexing.

    • Francis
      January 27, 10:09 Reply

      ??? Eeeya

      Mouthwash is best but if you must brush stick with a soft toothbrush and don’t use muscle.

      Rimming is something I personally feel is best left for people you’re steady with.

  14. BRYANNNN
    January 27, 09:40 Reply

    @ Dr Francis, such a didactic post you have here, well i’ve got a question for you, pls!!! you talked about some private laboratories not being the best place to get a reliable test result, i thought they all use same kit ( Determine kit), even the so called foreign donor agencies like USAID, coz i know that its serial algorithm everywhere, with Determine kit always used as the first, bcoz of its (sensitivity) or is ur judgement on the competence of the personnel carrying out the test?????? ..coz i wud agree with the latter….
    In other news, Am a Biomedical scientist, based in Lagos, if u wanna get tested, search no more, indicate to pinkpanther and am most definitely MSM friendly..( grins) tnx guyz

    • Francis
      January 27, 09:58 Reply

      *scratches head* please I’m confused. Help a brother out. Where did I show distrust for private labs in this week’s entry? *my small distrust for private labs go show face in the next entry?*

  15. flame
    December 14, 05:02 Reply

    Please I need information on lgbt friendly hiv aids clinic around Gbagada Lagos state. It’s very urgent please!!!

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