HIV on my mind this morning… Don’t know why? But please read and save a life.
I was in the fourth year of my Med-Peds residency, and a fourteen-year-old boy was admitted with fever, inflamed gums, and a rash. The admitting team was stumped, as they did not have a diagnosis for this child with a fever, and high white cell count – Kawasaki’s disease? Strep infection? Simple viral illness? All these diagnoses did not pan out. Enter the Med/Peds resident with the cynicism stemming from inhabiting the grainy adult medical world. She comes in and sees this kid who presented so much like some individuals she had seen on rotations on the medical floor that a chill ran down her spine: ‘Could this be…!!!’
Her workup of the case started with re-obtaining the medical history, which now turned out to be so different from previous because he knew that she knew something that the others did not and was not messing around…
Question: “Are you sexually active?” Previous answer – no, my answer – yes.
Question: “Have you ever slept with a man?” Previous answer – no, my answer – yes.
Question: “Have you ever had unprotected oral, or anal or penetrative vaginal sex?” Previous answer – no, my answer – yes.
The answers pointed my team to an entirely different direction from previous and blood work was obtained that confirmed the diagnosis – Acute Retroviral Illness – My patient was HIV positive at 14 years of age! I had the unfortunate responsibility of giving him a diagnosis that he had to receive on his own because his diagnosis could not be shared with his family. After his initial reaction of shock and a bout of weeping, he turned to me and asked: “Dr. Okulaja am I going to die?” I said to him “honey we are all going to die someday, but if you are asking me if this illness will kill you, all I can say is that with treatment, you can still live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. Did you make a wrong decision? Yes, you did, but it is not the end of your world”. And I hope from the bottom of my heart that it was not the end of his world. He was fourteen years old… I have also unfortunately given this diagnosis to a 40-year old housewife, a 35-year old newlywed (who was a virgin before getting married), have found out incidentally HIV-positive baby born to seemingly healthy parents, among others… What am I saying? HIV IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS!!!
If you can answer yes to any of the questions above male or female or even if you have had cause to have protected sex – which probably means that there was a fear of infection in some way, please get tested.
AND if you have been tempted to, or have had unprotected sex that you know you should not have had, please get tested.
For all the single folk out there, just because indiscriminate sex is the norm, does not mean you have to fit yourself into the mold. Abstinence is no longer being old fashioned in the world that we live in; it’s called being smart!
For all the married folk out there who are stepping out, be careful that you stepping out on your spouse will not cause you to step out of living life entirely. You may give excuses: “My wife/ husband does not sleep with me”, “I don’t love her/him anymore”, “Why should I deprive myself of enjoyment? After all, he/she is doing it too…”
Well, it’s your choice. But remember these three things that I tell my patients:
1. HIV IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS!!!
2. It doesn’t matter if he is a ‘good’ person. In relationships, a person may be ‘good’, but he/she may have been to ‘bad places’ and you sure as heck don’t want to share of the fruit of their experiences.
3. Nobody will ever introduce him/herself to you by saying “Hi my name is… I’m HIV positive, and I’d like to get to know you.”
HE WAS 14 YEARS OF AGE.
How old are you?
Be safe and be responsible; your life depends on it.
Please help educate and create awareness by sharing this post.
HIV IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS!!!