The Elephant in the Room…

So, I got challenged somewhat following my last post, regarding my stance on the futility of undue bias and unfair, as well as uncalled for persecution by society, of people living with HIV. I was called out by multiple persons on why I’d see fit to in any way create any comparison between HIV infection and other conditions like hypertension and Diabetes.

While I get the meat of the vocalized as well as quietly brooded queries, which in many cases are actually pretty rational… I can’t help but state in clear terms the considerable paucity of knowledge today’s society largely collectively wallows in on the subject.

So I thought to try to address the pretty large, lumbering elephant in the room… What makes this infection, despite the many, many, many gains already made in its treatment and follow up, what makes it retain such a seeming vice-like grip on, at the very least, our collective subconscious?…

… SEX!

Yep, I know there’s the fact that it’s contagious, especially when untreated. I also understand there presently is no cure. I however think a very sizeable chunk of the taboo status may be in its general ‘assumed’ affiliation with the notion of some form of preceding ‘sexual looseness’ clearly fundamentally frowned upon culturally here in Africa, and apparently deserving of some kind of moral and/or cosmic retribution!

Yeah, I’m no omniscient entity, so understand my opinion is by no means law. But yeah… I think it’s sex, it’s immediate association with the person discovered to be HIV infected, and all of the emotions the notion of it conjures in us: Awe, shame, desire, mystery, curiosity… and no small dose of ‘exalting self-righteousness’!.

Now you’ve got a condition which has been quite rightly touted over the years, a large chunk of which people were constantly reminded about how there was no cure, how “e no dey show for face”, and so on… the concept of HIV/AIDS was practically deified, and in sone quarters, presented as a just and/or cosmic reward for immorality. Now add all that to the general lay assumption that virtually everyone who is positive got it through sex! And voila! There you have it!

It does not seem to matter that there’s effective treatment, or that there currently is an extremely fine line between being virally suppressed from taking the drugs and an outright cure. I think society cannot seem to get past sex-driven bigotry we so often display towards people living with HIV/AIDS. Such words as ‘promiscuous’, ‘undisciplined’, ‘karma’, etc., inevitably pop up in our heads but largely go unsaid.

This pervading taboo status, I find, can be debilitating! I have observed that more people outrightly reject HIV testing from fear of society’s persecution if discovered positive, than the fear of having the virus itself. Why else would not anyone ‘run headlong’ towards a test especially after knowing there is free, effective treatment without which the future truly is bleak for all undiagnosed HIV positive persons?