14 November 2012

Rwanda: Yes! Many People Are Having Unprotected Sex in This Day and Age?


THAT is the answer to the opinion "Who is still having unprotected sex in this day and age" that was published The New Times of Wednesday November 14, 2012 authored by Sunny Ntayombya. This is sad, very sad in deed. I think before we start preaching and having campaigns on the existence of HIV/AIDS, we should focus more on sensitizing the youth on knowing their HIV status.

HIV testing is the key to slowing the HIV epidemic. Knowing your HIV status could be one of the most important things you do. You have a right to know your HIV status, and testing and counselling should be widely accessible through innovative, ethical and practical models of delivery.

I remember about two years ago when I worked and lived in Rwanda, I went to get tested at a certain clinic near Nyamirambo. Don't ask why I decided to go to Nyamirambo; of course I wouldn't have gone to King Faisal Hospital where almost all nurses and doctors were very well known to me. Couldn't stand the stigma had the results been not very welcoming.

Anyway that's besides my point, but what shocked me most is that when I entered the clinic, I said I am here to get Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT), so they took my blood to the lab and after a while which seemed like an eternity, the doctor called me.

With no counselling or warning, he handed me an envelope and told me to choose if I wanted to open it there or at home. Word count doesn't allow me to dwell on how that went.

What I am trying to say is HIV testing and counselling are entry points to HIV-related care and prevention services. It provides opportunities for people to reduce their risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. High priority should be given to scaling-up HIV testing and counselling to maximize the opportunities to reach those with HIV infection or at high risk.

What happens is you start dating the man or woman of your dreams; and since sex before marriage became accepted in the society (Oh C'mon, don't act shocked! ) this is a fact and the sooner we accept it the better; you are so keen on using condoms for at most 6 months.

Then somehow miraculously he/she becomes negative (without testing) and you decide to take things to the next level commonly known as un-wrapping the sweet. You both decide that you trust each other and YES you decide not to use condoms.

Of course this has happened to almost all of us and it is by the Grace of God only that we are still here. And if you are there and still using condoms with your boyfriend of six months, we need a day set aside to celebrate you. So what happens? You are no longer using condoms with him, and let's just hope that both of you are faithful because if you are not then sooner than later the third person will be trusted as well and cycle continues.

As much as it is scary to know your status, it is way better than not knowing. As Mr. Ntayombya was shocked about men who have unprotected sex with sex workers, it is as shocking with serial daters who don't know their HIV status and un-wrap the sweet every two months of dating.

I know that HIV is no longer a death sentence, be strong and brave and get that HIV test and then move on to solving the real problems.

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