Revealing the Myths: My Encounter with HIV-Sevilla
I started believing that only non-believers could contract HIV
I grew up in a family that was spiritually influenced and so deep into religion. My family used to believe that HIV cannot affect the saved, God-fearing people. At church, our pastor would even open scriptures that state that different diseases would affect most of non-believers. This affected me a lot because I never believed what I learned in school from my teachers about HIV modes of transmission. I started believing that only non-believers could contract HIV.
My friends tried enlightening me in vain.
In high school, I had friends who were close to me and we would talk about a lot of things. They liked telling stories about HIV-positive people and how they faced rejection from others. They talked of how HIV is transmitted through blood transfusion from an infected person and having unprotected sex with an infected person, among others. I would tell them of what I had learned from my parents and religious leaders and this would spark a debate. None of them could believe what I was saying and looked at me like I was crazy.
I got into an intimate relationship.
I later joined campus, where my life changed and I got new friends. All my friends were in a relationship and I soon found myself in one. We started dating and I loved having a boyfriend. We soon started engaging in sex. I had no fear since I had tested before and I was HIV negative. I also knew that, being a believer of the scriptures, I could not contract the disease in an event where he was infected.
He was HIV positive and, now, so was I
One of the days he started falling sick, very sick. I suggested that he should go to the hospital, but he was reluctant. After a couple of days, he got weaker and I had to take him to the clinic myself. It was at this point that I came to learn that he was HIV positive and had stopped adhering to his medication for fear of me finding out about his status. Knowing this, I decided to get tested and to my shock, I was HIV positive. This really broke my heart and left me feeling angry and betrayed. I decided to go for counselling to help me process what I have been through. The counsellor helped me to come to terms with the reality, accept myself, and start taking medication. I have been taking the medication, and I usually go for adherence counselling to share about my journey and any challenges that I am facing.
Knowledge is power
I would like to encourage people to have the right information about HIV and its transmission. Arming yourself with the right knowledge is very powerful.