Reflection of Strength

Being HIV positive is no joke! The thought of adhering to prescribed drugs for the rest of your life and the frightening feel of being stick with a needle twice or more per year was and is quite traumatic but clearly I’m much stronger and braver than I thought!
I recall many times feeling discouraged and ashamed of accessing treatment due to my status at the health centre as I was terrified by constant stares of other patients or passer-by’s towards me. Clearly I’m much stronger and braver than I thought!
I was once a silent woman, my status was self-secret and never did I imagined today would have existed when I can boldly say “I’m HIV positive” and that is to who needs to know. To my surprise I’m loved and appreciated more due to my disclosure and persistence towards life. Clearly I’m much stronger and braver than I thought!
Years ago I believed my existence did not matter and my potential and drive to becoming a nation builder was doomed, yet, all that was a destructive and distraction thought as I was not empowered neither was I given the correct information or enlighten to the possibilities of life while living with HIV. Currently I’m a force to reckon with! Clearly I’m much stronger and braver than I thought!

Often times I felt trampled and suffocated by families and friends as they were in denial and or gossip about my HIV status, throughout all that I never felt inferior. Clearly I’m much stronger and braver than I thought!
It is not an easy road to trod with HIV, especially with the many stigma and discrimination that follows but with such strength and drive that I’ve possessed over the past years I can truly say I’ve gotten far and I will continue.

 

By MzConfident — a JCW+ Participant

Old Folks Have Sex Too

Most times if not all times, safe sex messages are tailored and directed towards younger people. That is so biased though I mean aren’t ‘older folks having sex too?  😐 The fact is, ALL sexually active people of regardless of age should be aware and be encouraged to engage in and practice safe sex. Safe sex is about taking precautions regardless of your sexual preferences. Sexual intercourse between those of the opposite sex could lead to an unintended pregnancy; and sexual contact of any sort can potentiously lead to the contraction and spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Safe sex is an essential commodity to avoiding such unwanted and often times unforeseen consequences or circumstances. And let’s just say safe sex begins in the mind, before you’re anywhere near ready to have sex.

The ‘natural’ outcome of engaging in unprotected sex can be deemed as pregnancy, right? So one should be in the know about condoms along with other contraceptive methods. I mean let’s face it, a condom may not be in the forefront of your brain if you’re in the heat of passion with your partner, especially in the case where you’re both partially or fully undressed – BIRTHDAY SUIT! Contraception isn’t difficult but it does takes some planning and commitment . The most reliable method of preventing pregnancy is celibacy!  But just incase you feel you just MUST have sexr visit a doctor or family planning clinic. Others necessitate is at least a trip to the drugstore – postinor 2, always available!

Don’t ever feel threatened to do what your partner wants, if he loves and wants what is best for BOTH of you he would never try to guilt you into unprotected sex. See that right there is NOT a good trait of a man to be the father of your children. So yes you may love his ass but if you are absolutely, positively sure you do not want to make a baby, then don’t have sexual intercourse — be abstinent!  Do not go on a guilt trip and mess up your track!

The ‘alphabeth disease’ and those of it’s kind also comes into play. Even if you guard against pregnancy, you still run the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. In fact, some contraceptive methods don’t offer any protection against STIs. The condom is really the ONLY two in one method of birth control and disease control although it’s not the most effective method of birth control. So you may have to use two types of contraceptive to maximize the effect.

Sounds tedious right? Can arguable say this is why so many people just don’t bother to use any form of protection, like most times. As a result this has contributed to being one of the reasons why there are so many unintended pregnancies and why STIs are so rampant amongst us. But let me urge you in saying that if you’re going to engage in sexual intercourse, please make the effort to learn how to prevent the circumstances you have no desire to succumb to.

Having intercourse has three potential outcomes: causing pleasure, contracting an STI and making babies. You will have moments in your life when you’ll want to combine two of those three being pleaseure and baby making. But most of the time you’re going to want pleasure without babies and most definitely you would never want an STI. That’s where safe sex comes in. And the less worried you are about causing an unintended pregnancy or risking an infection, the more you’ll enjoy sex — sort of a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. This also works the other way, so if you opt to have sex without using contraception, and you don’t want to get pregnant or contract an STI, you’ll enjoy sex a lot less. Safe sex has never subtracted from the pleasure of sex shun that myth about condoms makes it feel less enjoyable.

Tek Charge and use a condom EVERYTIME! #SafeSexWeek207

Self Love and Acceptance

Never did I imagine myself being HIV positive!
Growing up as a child, my intrinsic belief of HIV was for “certain People” and the lifestyle that they themselves were engaged.
To my surprise, HIV is beyond our own beliefs!
Over the past years, I’ve battled with my mind and self-acceptance, not realizing that the solace of self is a continuous journey and whatever choices I make or made will eventually be the outcome of such.

Now I’m at a stage in my life living Positive with HIV and have no regrets as it has thought me self-love and appreciation and how to tolerate and rationalise diversities.

Today I allow my flamboyant personality to shine throughout all catastrophes and the potholes of life, casting away all distractions and negativity.

Yesterday has thought me a valuable lesson.
Today I shine and embrace my inner peace.
Tomorrow I will love myself even more.

WILL YOU LOVE AND ACCEPT YOURSELF TODAY!
TRY IT! IT WORKS!

By: Mz Confident

Tek Charge and Practice Safe Sex!

Thousands of people living with HIV are unaware they are infected with the virus, and as such, risk spreading the disease through unsafe sex practices.

This Safer Sex Week 2017 under the theme ‘Tek Charge’ the surge in HIV diagnoses has prompted NGO and Government to engage in prevention programmes to address the situation. Not only is safer sex week limited to that of HIV and other STI prevention but also that of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

It is safe to say that we have been growing complacency around HIV, the disease that needs to be tackled. With HIV no longer regarded as a death sentence, people are less fearful now as it is a manageable illness. No one bothers themself with the thought of HIV taking years off their lives. Reports of unprotected sex have been rising slowly, but the increase in rates of unprotected sex has resulted in more persons getting tested and diagnosed. The evolution of the rapid HIV testing, where patients get results in 20 minutes or less, and the roll out community based testing mainly via the ‘Bashy Bus’ has contributed immensely. It is true though that we need to test a lot more. Usually persons living with HIV are diagnosed years after infection; thereby risking the spread of the virus unknowingly.

While there has been steady improvements in treatment – and a sharp decline in mortality rates, in the past 6 months I have seen many of my kind – young women living with HIV, falling dead. Yes they seem to adhere to their appointments and medication as recommended but they kept exposing themselves to other ailments posing many challenges for them. So they take their medication and go to the doctor but neglect their over-all treatment plan. Do not be delusional that having acheived viral suppression means that you should go around having unprotected sex nor does it mean that it’s ok to participate in unprotected sex with your partner just because you are both infected. HIV has different strains! The key factor that is being explored is ‘test- start- treat (TST)’. A means to scale-up testing initiatives so that people who are positive can go on treatment straight away as sanctioned by WHO,  treat regardless of CD4 count as treatment does have a huge prevention impact.

Social media, dating websites and the need to ‘fit in’ due to peer pressure has contributed to the fuelled increase in HIV transmission. I have concluded that there appears to be a degree of ambivalence amongst us that HIV compounded with an unintended or unwanted pregnancy is not so bad. The advances in treatment of HIV and abortion services have taken the edge off the perceived seriousness of this. 

If i had known then what I know now I would have ‘tek charge’ and made different choices to shape my life. Take a young women by age but old by experience advice, choose two – condom and birth control. ALWAYS use a condom and make it YOUR responsibility to walk with a condom. Explore your options for safe sex but no matter what you choose use a condom and TEK CHARGE! 

Love Moves Beyond Discrimination

On Sunday Feb 12 I had a surgery to remove a Bartholin Cyst. You can read more about a Bartholin Cyst here: http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/bartholin-gland-cyst-topic-overview 

During the procedure I was so much comforted and felt like any other woman not living with HIV would. I felt nor saw no forms of discrimination and even when at one point I felt the slight jarring of my skin I trusted Dr. Eaton as he said “you are doing so great and I am almost there. ” Yesterday though took a different turn. When I went for dressing the look on the nurse’s face would scare even an ogre. When I stepped in the room she asked me where is to be dressed to which I responded my vagina. It was then that I concluded the look on her face was not because she knew what a Bartholin cyst was but rather because my docket had stated that I am HIV positive. 

When she had removed the old gauze and taping and dressed the area – which in my opinion was not done properly as am now having severe bleeding due to inadequate stuffing, she instructed me to remove the padding I had rested my buttocks on for her to clean and dress. I asked if I could use the pipe in the room and she said no that was for the nurses use. I stepped down smiling and responded, “removing those is not my responsibility especially seeing that no provisions made for me to sanitize my hands afterwards, do have a pleasant day. “

I felt so disrespected but I ☺because I had my neighbor who assisted me to the health centre, she collected my medication while I waited to be dressed. I remembered the night before the treatment I received at the out patient department. Lots of love to Dr. Eaton and the two nurses that assisted him, Patricia who has always supported me and Ms. Richie who had my ARV on deck so I could kill three birds in one day. 

All I had was but one ‘bad’ experience which I did not allow. Beyond all the stigma and discrimination love overpowered and shone through.

Discrimination is real but so is love, it takes more from you to accept the negative so let it go and breathe in the love. Happy Valentine. 

Love Begins With ME

Maybe it is innate or maybe we just want to think it is. We are always seeking to be loved by someone else when we don’t even love ourselves. Does it make any sense though? I mean, realistically how do we expect someone else to love us when we are merely tolerating our own behaviors?

After searching for many years and NEVER seeming to find anyone that was good enough I realized that it was myself that was not giving enough loving to me and so I decided to change that. To get love you portray love!

I am a positively beautiful creation of love and I aspire to be a giver of raw, natural, untamed love.

Love Positive Women: Romance Starts At Home, is active primarily between February 1st – 14th but I promise to love me all year round by starting from a place of love  within myself.

See more of LPW at: Love Positive Women: Romance Starts At Home

Self Care , love positively

SELF CARE

Excerpt from ICW Strategic Plan

We value the time and tremendous energy that women give to ICW

Individual self –care is important for women WHIV to sustain, motivate and support the work they are doing to improve the lives of other women.

It is of equal importance that we support our peers and ourselves to ensure we are able to maintain physical, mental and spiritual balance in work, play and caring for loved ones.

ICW strongly advocates self-care for WHIV in the advocacy movement.