People judge me for being HIV+ until they find out how I got it
I’m HIV+, well I used to hide it when I was in Ghana four years ago because of the stigma and illiteracy. Recently, I saw the newspaper headlines on social media about the number of HIV cases recorded within six months and I was shocked. The level of carelessness and mere disregard for our well-being as young people always baffles me.
But then not all the positive cases came as a result of carelessness or a reckless attitude. In my case, I was a victim, a naive victim who trusted my husband for years and never saw any signs that will make me doubt him. The day I realised what had happened and the harm that had been caused, I nearly attempted suicide.
I left a short note to my family to blame my husband for my death. But after writing down whatever it is I wrote, I couldn’t bring myself to hanging myself in the room. I thought about my mother and my family who loved me so much and I just broke down in pain.
The years that will follow would be a roller coaster ride that will strengthen me in becoming the HIV advocate that I am today. I got married in 2016, I was 28 years of age and we had been in a relationship for two years. I was working hard to keep my catering start-up running and he was a public servant. We were happy, we were in love. We trusted each other as every married couple should.
When we were going to get married, we did a lot of medical checks. We even did that on our own to find out if we were compatible. We knew our genotypes, but we checked them again to be very sure. I got pregnant in the year 2017 and it was through the pregnancy that the doctor found out I was HIV+.
Apparently, the hospital did tests that I didn’t know of and the doctor claimed I was showing certain symptoms that weren’t just hormonal so she did all the tests necessary. When she told me, I was so sure it was a mistake that I asked for another test to be done and it came out positive again.
I went to another hospital to check and it was the same. I told my husband about my test and after acting innocent and telling me it must have been a mistake, he turned it on me and told me to open up to him if I had cheated on him.
He was gaslighting the whole situation, turning it all on me. I have never cheated on him and he knew it. I encouraged him to go and check his status. He looked at me blankly like he wanted to say something like he already knew.
Then he told me to forgive him. He said he found out just a few weeks ago and I was already pregnant so it wasn’t as if he could do anything about it. He told me he cheated just once, it was with a girl he met at a tour about six months ago.
He travelled to Dubai for a few days with a travel and tour company. It wasn’t his first time. It was something he did almost yearly even before he met me. This was for a few days, so I couldn’t object to it because if I did, it will become a fight and I didn’t want that. So my husband went to Dubai, met a girl and had unprotected sex with her.
I was distraught. I didn’t know who to turn to. He couldn’t bare to see me in the pain I was in so he left home and went somewhere I don’t know. He switched his phone off and his own family couldn’t reach him after I told them the cause of our separation.
I lost my pregnancy a few weeks after that and this plunged me further into depression until I got to the point where I wanted to end my life so that I wouldn’t feel the pain anymore.
Thankfully, my family came to my aid. My cousins and siblings helped me out of the pain. I went through a lot of counselling and I was educated that this is not a death sentence. I started taking ARVs and then I had an opportunity to go to the US through one NGO I started working with.
My advocacy started in the US. I was tired of being silent about my status. When I tell people I’m HIV+, they judge me, especially the African community in the US. But when I narrate my story to them, they feel pity for me. I don’t need pity, I want to educate everyone I encounter that HIV is real.
Being married or being in a committed relationship doesn’t guarantee that you will stay negative. How well do you trust your spouse? I’m officially divorced now. My husband has tried to reach out to ask for my forgiveness. But this is the issue with Africans.
We hurt people in irreparable ways and we expect that the people will forgive us just because we show remorse. That’s just not it. My ex-husband is on the top of the list of my regrets in life. I don’t know what forgiveness is. I have moved on.
Now my family home in Ghana, I want y’all to take responsibility for your health. Life is too precious. The numbers on the frontpage of that newspaper is incredibly devastating. Education should increase, advocacy should increase.
Condoms, Prep and other protective sexual methods should be loud everywhere. Come on folks, enough of the politics, these are issues we need to talk about more. I will be visiting Ghana soon and I hope to add my voice to this call. Stay blessed y’all.
Source: Anonymous Confessions
How to start a new relationship: 6 tips to make it work this year
Starting a new relationship can be quite tricky yet exciting at the same time.
You will be excited at the prospect of someone loving you and caring for you, taking time for you.
The start of a relationship might probably be the best time of your life as you are starting a new relationship. However, as excited as you might be, it is crucial to know what to do in a new relationship and what not to do in a new relationship.
How to make it work
If you understand the dos and don’ts of new relationships, it will be easier for you to move forward and form a healthy relationship with your partner.
It would help if you respected each other’s independence and choices. Although it is alright to keep in touch, be aware of each other’s whereabouts, and communicate, continuously pinging each other can also suffocate at times.
It is just that how to start a relationship can be quite complicated and tricky and requires lots of effort. Once you get used to it and know about your partner, it is easier to form a healthy relationship.
Dos and don’ts for a new relationship can help you stop second-guessing yourself. It gives you a vague blueprint about what needs to be done, and it can enhance your bond further.
- Have realistic expectations
For a relationship to work, it is essential to be emotionally and mentally strong. You also have to be compromising and understanding. It’s not necessary that what you want in a relationship is the same as what your partner wants. So, be realistic about situations.
You can both have different thoughts and opinions, like how often you should text in a new relationship. While one person could enjoy the attention, the other appreciates space. So, it is crucial to find a middle ground.
- Show love and affection to your partner
You might have made a new boyfriend. And now you must be thinking about starting a new relationship with a man you’ve just developed feelings for.
You must first remember to show love and affection to your partner to strengthen the bond between you both. You must give attention and time to your partner and make eye contact with him.
- Don’t start talking about the future prematurely
When you start a new relationship, bombarding your partner with questions and plans for the future is not how relationships work. There is a big chance that you can put your partner off.
Every relationship requires time, and you cannot imagine your boyfriend being head over heels from day one.
You should remember that you are new to this and just starting a relationship. It is okay to be on cloud nine. However, if the question, “How to have a good relationship?” lingers in your mind, you must know that it’s all about taking things slow, one thing at a time.
- Don’t mention fears prematurely
At the beginning of a relationship, you and your partner are still getting comfortable with each other. Therefore, one of the crucial new relationship dos and don’ts include not mentioning your fears prematurely.
Allow your partner the chance to discover your fears and limitations gradually. Mentioning things at the get-go can make them feel intimidated and overwhelmed.
You can mention your fears when they become relevant to the equation you share with them.
- Enjoy moments
One of the big dos and don’ts in a new relationship is enjoying the present moment.
Don’t let your past experiences and concerns about the future take away the sheen of the exciting present you are sharing with your partner.
The best part of a new relationship is often the excitement and fun that you can have with someone. The chemistry between you two should be your focus, not the stress and anxiety about the past and present.
- Communicate effectively
Entering a new relationship can seem daunting as it often involves opening up to someone and sharing your life with them. However, this can be a cakewalk if you let clear communication guide you through this process.
Treat effective communication as one of the most important dos and don’ts in a new relationship. It can make or break a relationship depending on whether you do it honestly, respectfully and openly.
5 healthy boundaries every relationship needs this season
Every relationship needs healthy boundaries.
Topics such as the boundaries you wish to have can save you from heartbreak down the road.
These are simple dos and donts that you expect your partner to abide by. They could be as simple as how you expect them to communicate to whether or not your relationship is exclusive.
Setting boundaries can determine the success or failure of your relationship.
Even as you enjoy the butterflies that materialize in your stomach at the sight of your new partner, consider talking about the following:
- Communication style
This is very important information to give your partner. Tell them whether you like them to call or text, how often you need to hear from them, which pet names you like and which you don’t, etc. This will ensure that nobody gets offended when their communication preferences aren’t met.
In the same vein, talk about if and how you will address your relationship on social media. Some people are comfortable bearing it all online while others would like to keep it off social media.
- What to do during conflict
Disagreements are inevitable and so, you need to know whether your partner needs time alone when they’re angry or they prefer to hash out your disagreement there and then. Communicate this clearly, preferably before you have your first fight, so that you know what is expected of you.
- The type of commitment you want
To avoid any misunderstandings, clearly state what you expect as far as your relationship is concerned. Will you be exclusive or would you like an open relationship?
As you talk about commitment remember that you can’t change your partner. Even if you’ve clicked and you want different things from the relationship, it won’t end well. Be strong enough to let go if your expectations as far as commitment is concerned.
It’s very important to set sexual boundaries. Tell your partner what you like and don’t like in the bedroom, how often you’re comfortable having sex, what level of intimacy you like on a first date or in public and when you’re alone, etc. Do you mind holding hands while you’re out and about? Are you a chronic hugger?
A partner who won’t respect these boundaries or tries to coerce you to break them even when you try to remain adamant risks becoming abusive. This is a relationship red flag and you need to run.
- Personal space
Tell your partner when you need personal space and what you require from them during this time. Do you need a few minutes alone when you wake up in the morning or do you like some quiet time when you come in from work?
Here’s just one of the examples on boundaries you should set early on in your relationship. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel your partner is crossing your boundaries and making you uncomfortable. And remember, some boundaries can be negotiated such that you’re both happy and on the same page.
4 best tips to avoid getting pregnant during s*x
There are many ways to avoid pregnancy if you are having active sex.
Sperm can live inside your uterus for up to 5 days after having sex, and pregnancy can only occur if there is sperm in your uterus or fallopian tubes when you ovulate.
You have many tools to prevent pregnancy. Birth control options are plentiful, but some work better than others. The key is to make sure you’re using them the right way.
Here’s what you can do:
- You’re on birth control
Hormonal birth control methods such as the pill, patch, ring, implant, shot, or IUD significantly decrease your chances of getting pregnant, but they don’t eliminate your chances.
These experts say methods work in various ways. For example, IUDs block sperm from reaching the egg, while the pill, ring, and patch prevent ovulation.
- You’re on your period
While it’s not impossible to get pregnant while on your period, your chances are pretty slim.
Your lowest chance of getting pregnant while on your period is during the first day of bleeding. But the chances increase with each passing day as you get closer to your ovulation window. If your typical menstrual cycle is close to the average 28- to 30-day cycle, then the likelihood of getting pregnant while on your period is low. But if your cycle is shorter, your chances of getting pregnant while on your period go up.
- You use the ‘pull-out’ method
The pull-out method may be the world’s oldest form of birth control.
The pull-out method, also known as withdrawal, involves pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation.
While some studies have found that withdrawal can be as high as 96% effective with perfect use, it isn’t easy to maintain perfect use with this method.
- You use a condom
When using a condom to avoid pregnancy (or sexually transmitted infections, for that matter), it’s vital to use it correctly. Correct usage means the condom is rolled onto the penis (or inserted into the vagina in the case of internal or female condoms) before there’s any contact between genitals and skin.
According to research, the chance of getting pregnant with male condoms is about 18%, and with female condoms, it’s 21%. With perfect condom use every single time, those odds decrease to 2%.
Some nursing parents use the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) or “breastfeeding method” to prevent pregnancy after giving birth. LAM as a form of birth control relies on the temporary pause in ovulation that often accompanies breastfeeding in the first several months postpartum.
While breastfeeding, the hormone estrogen, which is responsible for getting your period each month, is suppressed experts say, hence, preventing pregnancy.
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