01.12.2022 Opinion

Test and Live - World AIDS Day

By Dr. Divine Kabutey Agyemang-Lardey
Test and Live - World AIDS Day
01.12.2022 LISTEN

Dr. Jonathan Mermin, the USA based Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the importance of HIV testing said “Every time someone gets tested for HIV, we are one step closer to ending the AIDS epidemic. Learning your HIV status opens the door to powerful HIV prevention and treatment options that could save your life or the life of someone you love.”

Today,1st December being WORLD AIDS DAY, I decided to share my perspective on why people refuse to check their HIV status and end by highlighting the importance of getting to know one’s HIV status.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 7 people live with HIV and do not know their HIV positive status. People who don’t get tested for HIV put others at risk and delay their own treatment. So why don’t people make a HIV test part of their regular health routine?

Four(4) Reasons People Avoid The HIV Test

  1. “It is better I do not know I have the virus.” We completely understand that a HIV diagnosis is upsetting but choosing to avoid getting a HIV test puts you and others at risk. You may be unknowingly infecting sexual partner(s) and family who could be exposed via blood. Women who are pregnant can pass the disease to their children. Plus, the earlier diagnosis occurs, the more likely people respond well to treatment and live a healthy life. Don’t let fear keep you from taking a HIV test.
  2. "Testing for HIV means one wants to find HIV in their blood.” There is a popular African saying that, you will find whatever you look out for with an open eyes including a Ghost. This is the reason most people do not want to get tested. They believe they will end up finding what they are looking for. In one of my conversations with a friend who is in fact a Health Professional, he mentioned that; why do I waste my time to go look for something I do not want to see. This believe in my opinion has prevented a lot of persons from testing for the virus and thereby living years with it until it dire consequences begin.
  3. “I am in a committed relationship so there is no need.” The believe that one is in love and the love is mutual so no need to worry about HIV is problematic. HIV does not understand and does not know what love means; be it love in marriage or any other relationship. That is why a mother can love her daughter so much yet infect her with HIV if she has the virus. Unfortunately, this is a virus that has been successful in wiping away a whole family regardless of the love that existed between members of those families. Partner testing is a great idea. Go together and get the test. If your spouse or partner doesn’t want to get the test that could be a red flag that there’s a problem. Families can go test together as part of routine medical checks.
  4. “Confidentiality of Results” Most persons refuse to test because of confidentiality of their results. This is one of the key reasons persons continue to live with their HIV status unknown even to them. My appeal is for testing to be done outside your community of residence if you are not sure about the confidentiality of the result. For example, you can perform the test when you travel to Accra if you live in Sege-Ada. Probably, you will be a total stranger to the health professionals in the facility you are testing in.

Four(4) Reasons People Must Have The HIV Test

  1. If you have HIV, it is better to start treatment before you get sick. You don’t have to see symptoms before you start treatment.Starting treatment before you develop symptoms could help you live longer with fewer health problems than if you delay. The only way to know if you should start treatment is to get tested.
  2. If you have HIV and don’t know it, you can transmit it to people unknowingly. Testing will inform you on your dos and don’ts. If you have HIV, getting treatment can further reduce the possibility of transmission to someone else. Using a condom every time you have sex becomes a must; getting treatment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use condoms, but it can help reduce the risk of transmission
  3. Research has it that people who get to know their status and start early treatment live longer. You are not your disease. You can live your life to the fullest and to the best of your abilities even with HIV. The first step is to know your status by testing and then being extra careful if you test negative. If you test positive, please go to a nearby clinic to begin counselling and treatment. Again, you may want to move out of your community and see a health professional outside your community for counselling and treatment if you are not sure of the issues relating to confidentiality.
  4. You are contributing towards ending HIV/AIDS if you test and advice others to do same. This will be your modest contribution towards the fight against HIV/AIDS.We all have roles to play as citizens of the world against the continuous spread of the virus.A role none of us should take for granted if we are to end HIV/AIDS.

To end, let me reiterate that, your ignorance about the virus in your blood will not be an excuse for its consequences on your health. Get tested. Live your live to the fullest regardless of outcome by taking the right steps. You are not a disease. Let us all contribute towards the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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