I am normal; I look normal, I do everything ok and yet I am HIV positive. I didn’t know about my status until I got admitted into the university. I attend a private university in Nigeria where you have to do several tests upon admission.
I am a virgin by the way so my status didn’t come about because I had been promiscuous. So how did I know I have HIV?
In the first place, before now, I never heard much on HIV/ or AIDS; I have never saw or heard of anyone who has it and I do not even know what exactly it is.
I am 19 years old and got admitted last year; like I said before, part of the requirement for my school is to do medical test; and we must submit results to school before our registration is complete.
One of the tests we are required to do is HIV test. Like I said before, I didn’t even know what this test was; I just went the school’s hospital, showed them my form and they asked me to sit down as they would require blood. They drew blood and left when they were done.
I think about two days after the tests, I was called to show up at the hospital.
I went to the hospital and was told to wait.
I wasn’t apprehensive because I didn’t think anything was wrong with me; I play football, I am a very athletic person, I am healthy, I am young. I hardly fall sick…so I didn’t suspect anything.
When they finally called me in; there was a doctor and a nurse seated; they asked me how old I was; I told them. They asked me if I was sexually active. I said no, in fact, I was proud to admit I was still a virgin. They asked me if I had heard about HIV and AIDS. I said no and indeed, I never had to be honest….no, let me retake that; I had heard about HIV…during one of our Civic classes at secondary school but I never truly understood what is was; to my mind it could be like malaria…I don’t even understand malaria beyond mosquito bites!
Ok. They asked me if I knew of any family member that had it. I said I wouldn’t know because I didn’t even know what HIV really is? But I could google it.
They asked me to go ahead and Google. I did and well, I told them it was a disease that affected one’s immune system. Then they told me I had tested positive for it. And that they would like to do another test if I wouldn’t mind.
I was confused. I am like, ok. Maybe these people mistook my blood sample for another person’s, you know. This sort of thing happens.
I asked them if there was a drug they would give me…I think it was at that point they understood that I had no idea what was really going on. So they asked me to call my parents and that I shouldn’t share sharp objects with anyone. This was after they took another blood sample.
I went out to the corridor and decided to call my dad; I chose to call my dad because I knew my mum was a drama queen. From what I heard inside the doctor’s office, this HIV thing was pretty serious. So I called my dad; he is always calm, doesn’t get rattled, you know, my dad is someone who knows how to get things done. One day, my sister almost set our house on fire with our gas cooker, my father just came out of his room, calmly told us to go out and went to douse the fire! My mum was screaming, running helter skelter…
Anyway, I called my dad.
I said, “daddy; I don’t really understand what is going on but I am at the school’s hospital and they say I tested positive for HIV!”
The daddy I thought was always in control just shouted, “Ooh my God, no!”
What? That was when I began to get afraid; I am in more serious trouble than I realized!
Anyway, my dad asked me to give the doctor the phone. I went back inside and told the doctor my father wanted to speak to him…
My dad spoke to me after he had spoken to the doctor; he told me I would be fine and asked if I had called my mum, I said no, he said, “She must never hear this, ok?” I said, “yes sir.”
When I got back to my hall; my dad called me again; he was calm, told me I shouldn’t worry, he would be in our school the following day.
Now before I left the hospital, they had counselled me about the disease and told me I shouldn’t worry that I should simply follow some instructions about sharing stuff with my roommates and all that to which I promised to.
My father called me again, his third call made me realise he was rattled by the news; he told me again he would do all in his power to support me; he was crying but was pretending he was coughing…
When I got back to my hall; I opened my laptop and really began to read about HIV and how one can handle it. I read so much so that I realized in Nigeria, there were several popular adverts…I didn’t know. The one that resonates with me is this…e no dey show for face and indeed; up till now, two years after I found out about my status; you would never know.
The second test?
Yeah, it came out positive as well.
How did I contact the disease?
My dad, no doubt, he told me himself!
When I turned 15, I began to use his shaving stick without his knowledge, even though he himself knew much later, he told me that was why he stopped leaving his shaving things in the bathroom but I had been going behind him to use it…that’s how I contacted it!
How did he contact it?
Guy man was once a man about town! He is my dad and I love him infinitely, he is also protecting my mum, so?
So far, we kept it from my mum for two good years, I have kept myself clean; I am on some drugs…I have never been sick. They said I may never get sick. And thankfully, it isn’t a death sentence, I have read that there might be a cure soon. So why tell mum?
(Series and written by Peju Akande and based on true stories)