Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Pledge To Myself

The more I counted, the more I felt the shivers for all the many illicit sex I had had. Curiosity and giving in to my bodily needs for sex had seen me start to experiment with sex at age fourteen. By the time I was done with junior high school, I could very well qualify for a really sexually active teenage boy.
I went to an all boys senior high school and though my sexual escapades reduced whenever school was in session, it shot up during vacations. Condoms had always been my friend and I had no problem going to a far away pharmacy just to get condoms.

In my second year in University, and for the first time, I had sex without protection. That experience lingered on and I wanted more and more of that. Eventually, condom use was discarded by the third or fourth time I was having sex with a particular lady. I knew of sexually transmitted diseases. I had heard of HIV but from where I chose to see things from, the University community was free from such illness.

Admittedly I have been involved in some very risky sexual activities. In all my involvements, I had discarded the condom use along the line. I never bothered to check for HIV nor any other illness because again, I felt they were alien to the group I had such sexual activities with and I just didn’t have any symptoms that could prompt me to go have a test done.

Eight years after my first degree and now with a Masters Degree added, and not married, I used to constantly sit back and smile anytime I heard of younger persons discussing their sexual exploits. Anytime I had a new lady trying to tell me I knew next to nothing about sex, as I was a good pretender, I smiled sheepishly at their comments. And felt happy that I was very much passing my fake acting situations.

As for HIV, I never thought it would ever be necessary for me to go get tested. I felt I would rather not know as we were all going to die anyway. My knowledge of HIV was as good as the knowledge of most of the best economics students in Ghanaian senior high schools. I knew the theories, and all there were to know but I had somehow not applied them to myself until I got intrigued by an HIV advocacy campaign on social media. I liked how the campaign was growing steadily and got jolted into my present state of self awareness when it became evident that condom use in Ghana is generally low amongst persons of higher education and earning a lot more money. Also that such people were having an increased case of new HIV infections.

My sleepless nights had begun! I could see truth in what was being said as I recounted my days from when I had first had unprotected sex and the numerous male friends who had said they did not use condoms either. One of the messages of the campaign was that people should reduce their sexual partners. The reason basically is that once one person had the virus, it will be spread to the other people in that sexual circle and members who were part of another sexual circle could also transmit the virus to new people.

My sleepless nights got worse.

So I found some courage and decided to know my status once and for all. I walked into a lab and asked for an HIV test. That was the longest thirty minutes of my life in recent times. The result came and was handed over to me. I drove home and drank some alcohol and drowned myself before I opened the letter I had been given. The result. . . I was HIV negative.

Sigh of relief!

I had already decided to use condoms, as the campaign was suggesting and I had now gotten to know my HIV status. Mentally, I made a note to be more careful from then on and to ensure I take care of myself. If anything at all, I am going to use condoms always.

Thanks to the Protect the Goal Campaign, which simply links people preventing HIV infection to footballers preventing their opponents from scoring them, I had gotten tested for HIV. 

I have now pledged to protect the goal too!