40 years of Aids

Hard to believe Aids has been with us for 40 years but it has! No cure yet but tremendous progress with the Antiretroviral Therapy and other forms of treatment that have enabled carriers to live relatively healthy lives for several years. 

Which is why it’s surprising that some sufferers are reluctant to seek treatment while others start too late and end up dying sooner than they probably would have. 

And then at the funeral, some rare form of cancer or other strange disease is cited as the cause of death even when everybody knows it was Aids indeed. 

And despite numerous sensitization and awareness campaigns regarding prevention and treatment, there’s still a lot of misinformation, myths and a slew of misconceptions out there. 

I remember a family friend who fell for the “miraculous soil” cure. Do you remember that phase? I understand the desperation, knowing you could die and leave your little ones behind but at the same time, I don’t get why anyone would settle for something as basic as a handful of soil for a viable treatment option.

Others believe a shower after unprotected sex rids you of the virus or that virgins, good Christians and such can’t contract it. These are all myths that have been debunked again and again and yet all these years later, they’re still circulating. 

And while Aids may no longer be the death sentence it used to be, the stigma hasn’t completely gone. Part of it is human nature, part of it sheer ignorance. 

Like I said, it’s not as bad as before but people still talk in hushed tones when someone with HIV dies and I’m not sure how many prospective employers would still give you a job if you revealed your status. 

Speaking of which, testing and getting tested is still a nervy subject. We’ve come a long way from waiting several days for test results but almost everybody I know gets jittery waiting even for those few minutes. 

And yes, some people still fake results even in this era of instant home kits! As for protection, it’s still the good old “ABC”: Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use Condoms. 

The earlier mentioned stigma means there’s still relative discomfort regarding the latter. Be honest. If you were out shopping with friends or family, would you pick up a pack of condoms and throw it in your cart? 

Jokes are made all the time about how no one wants to be seen buying condoms, especially from the neighbourhood shop because then, everybody will know your business and it’s so true. 

Condom dispensers are still the best bet and maybe we should have as many as ATM Machines everywhere, not to encourage promiscuity but to make it more convenient for those who need them as we await a lasting cure. Until then, keep it safe!

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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