First of December. The world is celebrating AIDS day within the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). As a country we are indeed moving a giant step ahead, many communities have agreed to take part in the campaigns to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Also, the numbers of those infected with AIDS is going down tremendously. Some good news at least, after so much bad!
Have you ever been tested? You might have for pregnancy, taken these urine and stool tests (ugh!), we can all agree we have been tested over and over or at some point in our lives.
But HAVE YOU BEEN TESTED FOR THE HIV VIRUS?
You can admit that the question itself sends chills down your spine if you haven’t. Obviously, you don’t want to be seen coming out of a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Center (VCT) or queueing to enter. People will talk. Your friends will start suspecting you. Your lover might accuse you of cheating ( the good reason to go with them).
These are very lame excuses not to take this life-saving initiative. Your fear is clouding your practicality. Deep down you don’t want to find out whether or not you are at the risk. Besides, what you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?
Prevention is better than cure (And there is no cure yet for AIDS). Once you know where you lie, there are better chances of protecting yourself and thy partner, if they are present. Don’t you agree?
You do not have to necessarily go to the VCT today, go NOW! Know your status and when you test either negative or positive once the results are out, a way forward will emerge. You will be advised on the DO’s and DON’Ts and this can only happen if you present yourself for testing. There is so much to learn!
First, when you visit the VCT, you will be offered pre-counselling after which you will decide whether or not you want to proceed with the process. After the results are ready, you will be post-counselled. Far from your worries, the health providers at these centres are required to operate on three core values, the 3C’s. These are:
Whatever your status reads it is between you and them. They can advise you but not force you to reveal your status to your partner. Although many a times, having them accompany you could be the best decision you make.
They need to inform you prior to the test and only if you agree, can they go through with it. They have no right to do so if you haven’t granted them permission.
You are entitled to two sessions of counselling once you visit the VCT. One is before you undergo the test and the second is after. You won’t need to be counselled twice if you decide not to be tested.
If you are sexually active, don’t simply stay true to that one partner, USE CONDOMS. This way you are better off from those scary STI’s and the possibilities of acquiring HIV are lowered. Don’t you want to have a infection-free sex life?
I honestly think this VCT business should be brought straight to our doors. Home-based HIV Counselling and Testing (HBCT) should work better as the health care providers are coming to you. Meanwhile, Tujue Hali Zetu!