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It’s hard living with HIV

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For many years there have been lectures on the dangers of unprotected sex but for many it was not a message for them but intended for someone else.

Last year the Ministry of Health launched a campaign named “Get Tested, Get Help” which urged people in high risk groups to get tested for the HIV/AIDS virus.{{more}}

Billboards, posters, radio and television advertisements have been used in the campaign and over the past year many more people have been brave enough to come forward.

One such person was Daniel (not his real name) who told SEARCHLIGHT how he agonized before getting the test. When he finally became brave enough, he had to wait another three days for the results and that wait was even more agony. Did he have it or didn’t he have it? His mind wandered back to all his affairs of the past and he wondered whether he had exposed himself in times of passion.

The result came and it was devastating.

Daniel told Searchlight that when he learnt he was HIV positive he was afraid not only for himself but also for his mother.

“But I’m no longer in denial, thanks to the help of the AIDS Secretariat Unit and God who bestowed mercy on my life to see the year 2006,” he said.

“It’s hard living with the virus, my family wasn’t supportive of me at all because they were not educated on how people become infected but as time passed they recognized that they could not contract the disease through casual contact and their attitude changed.”

Today he is critical of an “immature” and “intolerant” society.

“It only takes a mistake to realize what you are about and what you stand for. I had to learn the hard way. For others, I want them to know not to fool around, play it safe, use condoms if sexually active and have one partner.”

Now that Daniel’s disease has been caught early, AIDS drugs will help him to live a much longer life.

Making headway

More people are getting the message on how important it is to get tested for HIV/AIDS said Dr Del Hamilton, Director of the National AIDS secretariat.

Last year 6,052 people were tested and so far for this year, up to October, 5,981 came forward.

Testing is being done at the government labs at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, and starting soon, rapid testing would be done at six health centers she said.

This rapid testing consists of a prick on the finger, a little blood taken from persons being tested and results confirmed in an hour rather than three days, Hamilton explained.

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