HIV: there’s nothing worse than not knowing
Evans has been a sexual health counsellor at LVCT Health in Nairobi for seven years. He knows it’s not only ‘naughty’ people who get infected by HIV or other STIs.
He also knows that people can still live positively after testing positive. Yet, he still gets scared whenever he gets himself tested.
‘I love my job helping people to make the right decisions. But sometimes, I do get a bit dispirited. For instance, when people test positive just a few months after I gave them a negative result and advised them on how to avoid infection. Then, I have to remember that there is only so much I can do, and I need to keep up my hopes that people can change.
‘Because of what I do, I have developed a real phobia of unsafe sex. People talk about how great sex feels without a condom, but I just want to be in full control of my life and health. That’s why I don’t ever have sex without a condom. And even then, I still get tested regularly.’
Scared of getting tested
‘I’m fearful every time I get tested even though I know I can’t be infected. It’s a fear of the unknown. Waiting for the test results is a tense period. I just tell myself that even if I tested positive, I can still live a good and happy life. That gives me the courage for the testing.
And it’s a great relief to see the result and know your status. There’s nothing worse than not knowing!
Helping each other
‘Telling someone they are positive is a painful process, even for the counsellor. I needed to learn how to empathise with the client, without letting the hardship get to me. That is still difficult sometimes, but as counsellors, we also help each other cope with the tough parts of the job.
‘I remember one woman who tested positive but she really inspired me. She was 25. When she came for testing, she said she already knew that she was positive. She got it at birth. But she encouraged me because she still believes in a bright future. She believes that prayers make her strong and that she will get married soon. She just had this incredible, very positive attitude towards life, in spite of her status.
‘When I praised her attitude, she just said: “Without that, you are dead.”‘
How do you deal with the fear of getting tested. Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Love Matters Naija and Kenya.