I remember years back, the early 1990’s to about the mid-2000s to be precise when the mention of HIV/AIDS got heads rolling; it created such a wave of fear that anyone said to have it was avoided like a plague. Nobody wanted to associate with them, people lost friends, families distanced themselves and even workplaces weren’t conducive to accommodate anyone said to be HIV+, it was that bad and complicated.
Now let’s fast forward to about 15-20 years after with advancement in technology, availability of educative information, improvements in drug supply (anti-retroviral) and different laws and policies that have been enacted to protect the rights of people living with HIV. Pregnant women no longer have to worry about transmitting the infection to their babies as starting treatment early and adhering to the prophylaxis regimen given after birth, even marriage between HIV- and HIV+ couples is now common with both partners having the knowledge on what to do protect themselves and to top it up, people living with HIV can now live longer if they take their medications and adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
With all these great improvements and testimonials and more people becoming aware that being HIV+ is not a death sentence thus reducing the stigma against people who discover they’re carrying the disease. HIV/AIDs still live on, and we’re reminded not to lose guard as the spread of HIV/AIDS continues and according to a UNAIDS 2022 report, about 39 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally: 37.5 million being adults and 1.5 million representing children below the age 15. Although there has been a reduction of new HIV infections since the year 2010, there’s still a lot of work to be done to keep the numbers low.
As the world celebrates World AIDS day and various achievements, communities are encouraged to keep spearheading the fight against the disease, we thought it well to bring in some tips that act as reminders in preventing the spread of HIV and how we can keep ourselves safe. I know most of us are accustomed to the conventional method of the transmission of HIV, I’m gonna leave you to fill up the blank spaces, lol, but the world has gone beyond that.
Here are a few unique ways you and I can stay safe and also keep others protected.
- For males, save up and buy your own barbing machine: This not only protects you from HIV but other skin conditions as well. I know they told you that at the salon they spray methylated spirit and pass the barbing clips through fire, but those aren’t 100% guaranteed. You can only be sure of what is yours, so invest in it.
- Ladies, ladies, ladies, how many times did I call you? Lol, while going to do your routine manicure/pedicure, make sure to have your own pair of tweezers and grooming kits to avoiding sharing what others have used. Razor blades are often changed but not all items used for other procedures.
- Avoid being drunk in groups and being in unfamiliar places: alcohol and drugs are known to alter our normal reasoning and many people have been reported to be gang raped and caught doing things they wouldn’t do if they were in their right frame of mind. When you go out make sure you state accountable and sober enough not to do things, you’d later regret.
- If you’re a health worker, make sure to follow the necessary precautions before and after exposure to handling patients especially when it comes to handling blood and body fluids, one of which is never recapping needles after use, read my lips, imagine you can see me saying this, it can be deadly. Also make sure your client is calm while giving injections to avoid accidents that can ensue.
- Be up to date with your status: If you’re sexually active, it is advised to get tested every 3 months and if you’re not sexually active every six months. An awareness of your status enables you to know and be consistent with practices that help you stay protected. Remember it does a whole lot of good going with your partner especially if you’re in a committed relationship.
- Keep your cuts and wounds protected: transmission doesn’t only come by mere contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person but once you have a cut or damaged skin and you come in contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person then your chances of getting the virus increases. So, before you jump in to help someone who is injure, be sure you aren’t injured and don’t use your bare hands.
HIV/AIDS is everybody’s business and together we can conquer with safe practices. No protective measure is ever enough, we need to stay alert at all times. There have been successes but more needs to be done to achieve an HIV free generation, trust me it’s possible.
Need someone to talk to? Visit us at HCI HMO, we have professional and well-seasoned professionals to help you walk through your health journey.
Rebecca Adeleke-Adesanmi, BSc. Nur., MA, Healthcare Mgt.
Health & Wellness Advocate,
HCI Healthcare HMO