In those early days, when you see or hear of someone who has just diagnosed of the deadly virus, people begin to cry, loved ones et al, they lose hope like it’s a failed battle. And this is where the saga begins.
I remember traveling to the east at one occasion where one of the passengers was looking seriously ill and pale. The driver was stopping at intervals so the man could use the bush for toilet.
Obviously, he was stooling and very weak as well. He could hardly talk, people in the bus had no choice but to start up a conversation from his appearance/ frequent use of the bush.
” Nna, onye nke a ala ala final, onweghi ozo on’alota…” Meaning the man is going to his village finally, that he will not be able to return. They all concluded that he had the virus, the Igbo’s tagged it. “Obiri n’ajaocha.” Which means six feet to the grave. No cure or remedy. The conversation continued for a while with everyone with their explanation and ideology regarding the deadly virus.
The stigma then was absolute discouragement People living with the virus and were subjected to rejection and isolation hence went through pain and misery and this eventually drives them to give up.
Today, there’s a paradigm shift in the narrative. The awareness and campaign for ARV (Anti retroviral) has been brought a tremendous lift off the burden in society.
The rate of deaths as a result of the ARV has reduced looking back at what it used to be.
So, some people will ask or wonder why write on a topic as this. Well, I was looking through some Organizations and the mission and vision when I came across the U=U Campaign. (Undetected equals Untransmittable) this should be known to everyone in the different communities, societies and the world at large.
So, I had a conversation with one of the members of this campaign after which I resolved to do a story on this.
The campaign represents a strong promise to end the era of stigmatization against the people living with HIV, from enabling innovative approaches in the effect to ensure universal access to better HIV treatment and care.
The good news is that U equals U ushers in a new era to ending HIV, unlike the early days when people were unsure and scared… Oh yes! Stigma was all in the air.
Today, several studies conducted over the years have led to the remarkable discovery that adherence to ARV’s can lead to Untransmission of HIV
Is this not super brilliant that alas, success is here!!!
The important point is, if you take your drugs, your health will improve, and you are free of other infections your viral load would be low. Improved quality life and you will help end HIV.
Taking the ARV protects everyone! ARV saved, saves and will save lives!!!
So, do you know anyone who needs to see or read this today? Access HIV services including resting and treatment for free at government-designated centers/hospitals near you.
Be assured that as long as you are compliant with your drugs and your lifestyle is good enough then note that time will come that your viral load becomes as minimal to undetected which translates untransmittable to another.
If you love the people around you, your partner and want a better healthy society, then taking your medication every day will help keep your viral load very low, undetectable and prevents transmitting HIV (virus ) to an uninfected partner during sex.
Let us embrace the change and do well to create more awareness in our everyday dealings, with family, social media, radio drama in the local dialect and pidgin as the case may be.
The society is made up of our different families to communities and so on to the entire world, let’s spread the U=U today!
This story is inspired by the CIHP Center for Integrated Health Program Lagos.