Some of you are too old to be this ignorant about HIV, Google is free
There’s an HBO documentary called The Legend of the Underground, I still haven’t seen the full film but I saw clips on Twitter when it was released. In this particular clip I watched, an HIV-positive Nigerian man talked about the discrimination and stigma he faced from his family even down to them separating spoons so he doesn’t use the spoons they use in the house. Also not surprising, he talked about his experience at Church and the Church separating his chair from the congregation for fear of them contracting HIV. It’s hard to watch that clip and not feel a weight in your chest for what he went through, and while there’s a lot to unpack there with the Church, let’s just stick to the basics — ignorance, misinformation and discrimination relating to HIV.
Paradoxically, a lot of people know about HIV, yet, know so little about the disease, and in this day and age, you still have people making ignorant comments. If you’re going to take one thing from this post, let it be that HIV is no longer a death sentence — it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s not an airborne disease, and just a quick Google search will show you:
HIV spreads when an infected person’s blood, semen, or rectal or vaginal fluids get into your bloodstream. The most common ways for this to happen are through unprotected anal or vaginal sex or sharing needles or syringes with an HIV-positive person - source: WebMD
In this past week, clips of DaBaby’s dumb ass speech showed up online where he said:
“didn’t show up today with HIV/AIDS or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that will make you die in two to three weeks”,
Now I know most of you niggas ain’t bright, but damn, DaBaby, you’re pushing 30, and as cliche as it sounds, you have a lot of people who listen to you and will pick up this insane rhetoric about HIV. Yes, there was a time HIV killed a lot of people, but that was like 20–30 years ago. It’s no more the case, so it’s embarrassing and also deeply scary to see people still making remarks like this because they in turn cause other people to discriminate and hurt HIV-positive people.
In light of this foolishness, I guess it will be helpful to share some things about HIV for anyone interested.
(I’m not your doctor and you should speak to a licensed health professional for medical advice.)
How does one contract HIV?
First, let’s go with the basics: you can only get HIV when an infected person’s blood, semen, or rectal or vaginal fluids get into your bloodstream.
NO, YOU CANNOT contract HIV via saliva.
How can one preemptively prevent HIV?
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. It’s a pill you have to take daily, and it protects you from HIV even if an infected person’s blood, semen or fluids gets into your bloodstream. If you’re in Lagos you can get free PrEP from a free health clinic in Yaba. The clinic also gives free STD tests (including HIV), and gives PrEP, PEP, antibiotics and other drugs for free. It’s sponsored by USAID. If you’re rawdogging on these streets, please consider PrEP, scratch that, you shouldn’t be rawdogging, just use a condom.
Speaking of the free health clinic in Yaba, I’ve been there twice since I’ve been in Lagos, and the experience was excellent. The best part for me was having non-judgemental and chill conversations about my sexual health with the professionals, it was so refreshing to experience in Nigeria.
What happens when you’re potentially exposed?
Take PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
Now, this is something I didn’t know myself until February this year when I had a scare; HIV doesn’t show up in your blood tests until after about 3 months of being infected, so guess who had insane anxiety for three months?😭😭😭 The doctor in Abu Dhabi didn’t even bother telling me about PEP then, and even though my test months later came back negative, I would’ve at least been less stressed. lol.
While PrEP is something you take preemptively every day, PEP is a similar medicine you take daily (I believe?) after a possible exposure to prevent HIV. PEP should be used only in emergencies and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. If you’re going to be out on these streets, just consider getting on PrEP.
What happens when you have HIV?
Take your antiretroviral treatment (ART) and have a blissful life, you’ll be fine. Last I checked, ART drugs are free in Nigeria, you just have to visit one of the many locations in Nigeria and get a consistent supply of free drugs for life.
Lastly, there’s also something called Undetectable viral load. An undetectable viral load is where antiretroviral treatment has reduced your HIV to such small quantities that it can no longer be detected by standard blood tests. People living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load cannot pass HIV on through sex.
Again, Google is free, you can look this up or speak to a doctor. Don’t be a dumbass, and for you DaBaby and your insistence to double down on your ignorant remarks:
(One of my favorite Roxan quotes)
“The freedom of speech, however, does not guarantee freedom from consequence. You can speak your mind, but you can also be shunned. You can be criticized. You can be ignored or ridiculed. You can lose your job. The freedom of speech does not exist in a vacuum.” — Roxane Gay