Thursday, February 19, 2009

My boyfriend gave me AIDS

Seriously, what comes to your mind when u hear the words HIV/AIDS? How do u feel? That shit scares me. I can't imagine living with such a disease as it is something akin to a death sentence (in my mind). It is this mythical yet so real disease with such a horrible stigma attached to it. I refuse to think it can happen to me, after all I've hardly ever met any real life person with the disease.

Fortunately, or unfortunately ever since i started working at the mental hospital, i have met a quite a few people who were HIV +ve. For such a small population of patients (at that particular hospital) there seems to a large percentage of them with this disease. I can no longer pretend that this disease is a modern day myth, not that i ever thot it was but still it was something that was kind of surreal.

What gets me is the stigma that is still attached to it. I've noticed that whenever we have an HIV +ve patient, staff tend to spread that around, in a be careful conspiratory kind of manner. It's almost like everyone is afraid of the disease. I understand that we've had malicious HIV +ve patients who have thrown urine on staff, spat or tried to scratch people just because, but still i can't help thinking if sometimes staff who pass this information around in this manner are scared, especially if it's a non violent patient.

One thing that scared the shit of of me initially was how healthy/normal these people looked. It scared me because besides getting tested or being told there is absolutely no way of telling if these people are HIV +ve just by looking at them, which is a good and a bad thing. It's a good thing because then they can carry on their normal lives without being stigmatized and it's bad because how many sexually active people can say that they go out and get tested with their boyfriends (or whatevers) BEFORE they ever have sex? Many have sex, THEN get tested, maybe when it's time to get married or something like that. That is scary.

Last weekend, we had a 20yr old on the unit who had tried to kill himself. I didn't know why he was at the hospital at first, but cos he had a unique name and i had nothing better to do at the time i decided to look in his charts (we are allowed to). I was really shocked and saddened to see he was HIV +Ve and had just found out 5 days prior. The next day, we were chatting, he happens to be a very good looking, talktative, attention seeking young man, and he mentioned something about his boyfriend. He doesn't look or act stereotypically gay (forgive me for stereotyping), and i was like "your boyfriend?" Thinking i misunderstood. He tell proceeds to tell me he's gay and then tells me his boyfriend's name: first, middle, second middle and last name.
Then he's like, "he's very cute, he's the one who gave me AIDS and i tried to kill myself that's why i'm here" He said it so cooly like it wasn't a big deal.
Me: "Did you know he was HIV +ve when you first started dating?"
Him: "Yeah"
Me: "So why did you sleep with him without a condom?"
Him: "We stopped using protection almost a year after we started dating"
Me: "WHY?!"
Him: "I thought i would not catch it"

If he was my brother, i would have slapped him upside the head for that statement. My mouth mentally dropped at the ignorance of that statement, and i had already sucked in my breath to start lecturing him, but i realise there's no need cos he already has the disease and learned the hard way anyway. I tried to encourage him and tell him he shouldn't try to kill himself and he'll be fine. I even talked about Magic Johnson blah blah. He's a really cool kid, even though he spent the better part of the day arguing that we were the same age or i was younger than him for that matter. I guess looking at him being his crazy self, being funny and being a pain in the ass at the same time, i somehow got over my fear of the disease.

Just the way working at the hospital has helped me put a face to mental illness, seeing him and other patients who have it, has also helped me put a face to the disease. They are regular people like me and you, with people who love them. Watching him call his great grandmother and sing to her over the phone (did i mention he loves attention), touched me and made me aware that regardless of his HIV status, he's always going to have people in his life who love him.

Funny enough, the 33yr old lady whom i watched that day one on one, was also HIV +ve, and the main reason she was on a 1:1 was cos she wanted to have sex with anyone who would let her. She was having a good day that day, meaning she didn't give me a hard time esp with my apparent "young age" (according to her). She told me she had had 2 miscarriages, and was hoping to still have a child in the future. Her parents and sibling came to see her and she cried when they left. I guess all these little experiences have helped me get over my fear and negative associations of HIV.

Seriously though, u guys need to go get tested. It's never too late or too soon. No unprotected sex also, that's so not cool. Do better. Use a condom. 1-30mins of pleasure is not worth a lifetime of pain.

I done tell una oh. I've done my christian duty for the day. (Not that i'm much of a christian, but that's another story).

Ciao

32 comments:

  1. ...i had nothing better to do at the time i decided to look in his charts (we are allowed to)

    i dont think u're allowed to do that o, before HIPAA comes to carry you!

    but seriously, that dude was an EEDIOT!!!! if its not scary enough that u sleeping with some1 with HIV, but to stop using protection? there's no forgiving that! kai!

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  2. Glad ur perspective on mental health has changed....there are a lot worse disease one could have. Its a shame there is such stigma attached to it.

    Good news for HIV is that with the right treatment the life expectancy is the same as any other person. Bad news is that such drugs are a luxury in poorer countries as they are quite expensive.

    But nowadays there is absolutely no excuse for unprotected sex for heavens sakes..... you can even get them free from clinics!

    Well done for doing ur "christian duty of the day"

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  3. unbelievable


    WHAT
    wow so sad, but yeah hmmmm
    this is food for thought
    i guess we do the same thing we know people are full of venom(HIV) and still we let down our guard (condom) and allow them to spread their hatred into our souls

    this is sooo a post i gotta go and put it together
    thanks for the inspiration will reference u

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  4. @ Bumight: We were drilled about HIPAA so i'm aware of that. We are allowed to look in the charts. Patients ask questions all the time about stuff, and we can look in their charts and try to get answers or point them to the nurses. There is a kardex with a summary of all the patients and we are most definitely allowed to go through that esp since these are patients with mental illness, u need to know what you are dealing with.

    I'm sure it is different elsewhere, but if we weren't allowed to do it, i most definitely would not before them fire me for amebo work.

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  5. Omo, u fear me small o! See how I put my hands on my head like a market woman! with my heart beating gbam gbam gbam!

    Yeah I got tested 2ce and even tho I knew I wasn't +ve, I was still shivering in the 80degree heat (I had gone outside cos I thot I was shivering becos of the ac)

    Y oh Y did u not slap the yeye boy. He knew, but decided not to use protection? He is the king of mumuville. And yeah, the 30yr old lady. creepy stuff. Na u biko.

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  6. Ok after reading this, I am going to go get tested. Not because I have had unprotected sex, but because you never know. I am still so scared about the illness. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  7. i take the test once evry 6mnths...but its quite scary even if you r sure of urself.

    Somoeone always scared the crap outta me wit dt stuff!

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  8. i make sure i get tested regularly even tho most times im sure im good........ but that dude, he thot he wont catch it? seriously? wow, thats stupidity on another level.... poor him...

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  9. Very good christian duty.

    You don't want to imagine how it is in naija hospitals when a HIV+ve patient is on the ward.

    As for that one dat willingly and intentionally collected HIV from his boyfriend, i don't even know what to say about him!

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  10. HIV/AIDS is no joke. What is so sad, is that it is 100% preventable with education, protection and obviously safe sex choices an d practices. It is better to know one's status than not, because the risk to self and others is unforgivable.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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  11. hmmm...na wa o! Me i hate hearing that word- HIV...especially when i know that sometimes even innocent people get it from being ignorant..

    Hmmmm...how do two men have sex? (i guess that's a question only gay people can answer abi?) it just sounds so wrong to me!

    My own is...better to hold body...and stay with one partner in marriage, and if you can't, then use a condom for Christ's sake!

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  12. That's sad o.

    But the idea that one 1.30min 'burst' can cause you a lifetime of sickness should be scary enough to make people preach celibacy like Chari. Lol.

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  13. I have a close friend affected by the desease, it only made us closer knowing what she had been dealing with in secret and I felt honoured that she trusted me enough to confide in me...because of her I did my first hiv test and believe me the one week I had to wait for the result was the worst period in my entire life....Babe, I aged during the wait!!!

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  14. I had a cousin who died of AIDS because she had a blood transfusion from someone who was HIV +ve. There is a lot of stigma attached to it because most people feel sex is the only way people get HIV. I know that contributes to about 90% of the cases.

    It is also alarming how fast this disease is spreading and how it is caused by ignorance or taking risks. I thank God that there is hope for most HIV +ve patients in terms of lifestyle adjustment and Retroviral drugs.

    I hope we get to the stage where we love and accept HIV+ve people as they are rather than stigmatize them and spread information about their status.

    Thanks for the awareness you brought with this post...

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  15. You are joking! You mean someone doesn't understand how real HIV/AIDS is in this age and time?! I watched a very dear friend die of AIDS in '99. Scarred me for life.
    Thanks for this post.

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  16. How often does one have to take this test, It scares the living day light out of me.

    That guy is just psycho.....I'm sorry, but that's the lamest thing I've ever heard.

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  17. okay,i know this is really ignorant of me but how can i guy give a guy aids?
    how do gay peopple actually operate?
    i heard lesbians use sex toys but men nko?anal sex or wat?i tire oh

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  18. Whoa!
    thanks for sharing...HIV/AIDS IS REAL...the thing about it is that it is very preventable. You only have to be very aware

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  19. Whaaaaat? People actually throw urine and stuff at staff? I can't seem to get that in.
    As for the guy that freely received HIV,as stupid as he was, you would be amazed at what people do for love.
    How are you?

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  20. This is one touching story. dayyum

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  21. there is a cure to aids

    i wrote a blog post on this in the tubman solution

    many immunologists say that aids may be a benign disease that doesnt cause death

    but because of the mountains of drugs the person has to take and becasue of the social ostracism the person goes through with their family and friends its sad

    of course they are going to be depressed and even suicidal

    they immune system is going to wane and they are going to eventually die of loneliness and drug overdose

    not aids or hiv

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  22. Poor guy! Some people just believe they are invincible and cannot catch the disease. Careful people should not think that a condom protects you entirely, just don't have random sex! Even though you partner might be doing the same! What can I say? We just have to pray, take care and hope for the best!
    x!

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  23. Mehnnnn….that is one scary title...

    back to the 20yr old...i don't understand why he would stop...hmmm…i do remember watching a programme on HIV based around one guys who was negative but all his partners had died of AIDs or had HIV...they tested him and found he was immuned to the disease...they also did trials and traced his ancestors to the black plague...something about people's ancestors that survived it have the best resistance to HIV today...

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  24. Hmmmm. very enlightening, My friends works in the health care area and she keeps telling me of "normal looking" people with this disease. Once she made he mistake to tell her patient that she had the disease whilst her boyfriend was in the room...she almost got herself in big trouble sha

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  25. ....are you really a teenager? Wow!!!

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  26. Rethots, i am not a teenager oh! Where did u get that erroneous impression?

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  27. Im really stunned at the 20yr old guy..wow..

    Thanx for sharing this!

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  28. I really find it hard to beleive that the guy could behave so irresponsibly.....sleeping with a partner that is HIV +ve and without protection! One would have thought catching HIV never bothered him, but he wanted to kill himself. God save us.

    Intereting post!

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  29. Well done Sting,

    A very good and enlightening write up. I have not had the opportunity to meet an AIDS victim 1:1, but I do not condemn.

    I have a policy in life, NEVER SAY NEVER.

    Yes, you may never-directly-be infected with the disease. You may, however be indirectly infected. A sister, brother, relative, who knows.

    Well done Sting.

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  30. You know they're so many people who are walking around positive without knowing their status and so many people putting themselves at unnecessary risk as well. I'm not surprised that he had sex with his boyfriend knowing his status, many people are chasing the bug, and I guess the reality of being positive was worse than the fantasy of it.

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