Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

2 December 2012

Tanzania: Let No One Deceive You, HIV Tests Need Guts

On Saturday was World AIDS Day and the national celebrations were held in Lindi this year. It is heartening that after thirty years or so of the HIV/AIDS in the world the abbreviations no longer spell a death sentence.

Now we talk about people with HIV/AIDS and not trying to calculate when they will pass away. For some reason there is still some stigma and a few people living with the syndrome are belittled and made to feel inferior quite a pity if you may say so. But the impact of HIV/AIDS does not hit you that hard until you have a loved one suffer from it.

It is painful seeing someone waste away physically and mentally as the disease ravages their bodies slowly but surely. Fortunately with better care and understanding people with HIV/AIDS can live longer and with a purpose in life. The hard part is getting more people test their HIV status. Going on the defensive someone would ask bluntly state, that after all he or she looks healthy and there is no way why he or she should dig up trouble in the name of finding out one's status.

But that is the whole point you do not want to have to go through the test when you are already sick and suffering. But I can assure that picking up the courage to for a HIV test in the place is a conquest of its own. The questions on someone's mind are 'what if I am positive'? Will life be the same?

Who did I get it from? When? I truly feel for expectant mothers and their partners who are asked to test. Fine, it helps the medical personnel take care of the expectant mother and the unborn baby promptly but where does it leave the father in this awkward triangle. A friend of mine confessed that he went ahead and tested for his status alone without telling his wife before he was called to the antenatal clinic.

According to him he did not want any surprises. What made it worse he said that if the results were positive he would have totally refused to go for the test with his wife at the clinic. I have heard of stories of people who do the test and refuse to collect the results. Double tragedy as one, you do not know your own status and two neither does your partner know.

So the only person you are deceiving is yourself while putting the life of your dear partner at risk. So is there an easy way of going around it? To be honest, not at all. It is as bad as your swimming instructor ordering you to swim in the deep end. It does help if the counselor talks to you before and after the testing even before the results are out. Remember, knowing your status will help you plan your life better and if you do test negative you will have to keep on testing for as long as you remain sexually active.

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