I spent this week reading stories and doing research on HIV/AIDS. I was hoping to understand why the disease continues to spread despite all the mitigation measures put in place. I mean this is the age of knowledge.
So you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know that AIDS is incurable, or that there are numerous ways to protect yourself from acquiring it. And if you have acquired it, there are ways to protect others from being infected.
As I coursed through stories and interacted with my friends from the medical field, with people who I know to be promiscuous, and with friends who have a wealth of knowledge, it became increasingly clear to me that the one thing that is hindering the fight against HIV/AIDS is human nature.
One of my best friends is a lab technician at a general hospital. He says that countless times people have called him in the wee hours of the morning to find out if he can fix them up with Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
Without naming names, he says some of the people are well-educated and respected members of society.
And yet in the heat of the moment they are unable to control their impulses enough to at the very least use protection when they decide to have carnal knowledge with a random stranger whose HIV status they don’t know or haven’t bothered to ask.
However, this isn’t even the worst case scenario. Because those who seek PEP are a step ahead of those who throw cushion to the wind and neither use protection nor care if they get infected.
But even those are better than the kind of people who, knowing that they are infected, do nothing to prevent new infections or even worse, intentionally go out of their way to infect other people.
I’m talking about spouses who cheat and rather than wait until a time when they can test themselves to be sure they are safe, they just pass it on. I’m talking about rapists and defilers and that nurse who intentionally infected a newly born baby. I’m talking about expecting mothers who don’t care to seek prenatal care so that in case they are found to be HIV positive can still protect their babies.
One of the things that the campaign against HIV/AIDS has achieved is awareness creation.
This should be a good thing. But the problem with human beings is that no matter how scandalizing or shocking something is, if it is brought up in conversation frequently enough, they start to think: “well it isn’t so serious after all.”
In conversations about HIV/AIDS, I have had people boldly say to me that yes, AIDS is incurable but it’s not a death sentence anymore.
So why should it be treated like it is a big deal? If indeed they acquire it, they say, they will simply start taking ARVs and move on with their lives.
I ask whether or not they would take caution not to infect other people. Would they, for instance, before sleeping with someone, declare their HIV status?
They answer, “Well if they ask I tell them. If not, I assume they are infected or they are willing to take the risk.”