The general assumption is that the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) originated in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo around 1920. However, available data suggest that the epidemic started in the mid- the to late 1970s and didn’t spread to five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia) until 1980.
At the time, only between 100,000 and 300,000 people were infected; fast forward to 2018, over 37 million people in the world are roaming the globe infected with the disease.
Statistics show that Nigeria has the second largest HIV positive ratio in the world and one of the highest rates of new infection in Sub-Saharan Africa. While reports state that more than half of the global population living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral treatment, low levels of access to this treatment remains an issue for people living with HIV, meaning that there are still many AIDS-related deaths in Nigeria.
Even worse, many people living with HIV in Nigeria are unaware of their status.
Why am I giving this history?
Thanks to growing awareness and medical advancements, a lot of people in megacities of Nigeria (especially Lagos) now realize that HIV is no longer a death sentence.
In fact, they know now that when one person is infected and has an undetectable viral load, there is little risk of transmitting the virus to another party. Perhaps it is a good thing as it has toned down the stigma associated with the disease.
The downside to this, however, is that people no longer have that healthy fear for the virus.
They don’t think too much about it when they meet people and decide to have sex with them. Also, people who have the virus, but still undetectable, no longer see the need to inform their partners before having sex with them.
On the other hand, there are still some carriers with very high viral load who do not know that they have the disease because they believe that HIV no longer exists, so they keep spreading it ignorantly to trusting partners.
A recent post on twitter by @LadyIfy1990 narrated how her friend found ARV drugs in the wardrobe of her boyfriend, meaning he was HIV+ and didn’t tell her. Sadly, she had been having sex with him for five months already. There is no denying that the boyfriend should have told her about his status before engaging in anything physical with her, despite his viral load. HIV positive people also have a responsibility to make their partners aware.
When a couple first realize that they are starting a relationship, they should also start to be 100 per cent honest with one another. As they approach the point of becoming intimate, they should discuss issues like monogamy, contraception, and HIV…but people very often don’t do that in casual relationships which is very common now among Nigerian youth. The issue of their sexual health is ignored for a whole variety of reasons, the commonest being that they start being intimate using condoms, then one day ‘forget’ to use one, and then they can’t go back because that implies distrust.
I say, at all times use precautions!
And, particularly if it is a casual relationship, never believe them if they say they have regular health checks and as such, have no Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) or HIV.
Forget about condoms, remember, they are not wholly reliable as condoms can break, and put you in danger of contracting HIV or herpes from skin-to-skin contact. Again, you might be unlucky, your partner may use a condom and you could still be exposed to the disease or other infections without the condom breaking – because no form of protection is 100 per cent effective.
The only safe thing to do is assume that they have HIV or just any other STI and proceed accordingly
by taking all the precautions you can.
If you do decide to take a chance on your partner’s honesty and ask them about their sexual health, do not wait until you’re in the bedroom ripping each other’s clothes off.
Start the conversation before things get too hot and heavy, and place the emphasis on you so it feels like a mutual sharing of information, not an accusation.
Bottom Line: HIV should be an every day discussion among couples, just to ensure that they continue
to safeguard their negative status, rather than continue in ‘good faith’ and end up being infected. Again, in this day and age, when free, anonymous testing is easily available, there is no reason you and your partner should not get tested regularly.
Stay safe out there, guys! Shine your eyes…