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Hello There, its a very beautiful day. I welcome myself here first and foremost. I welcome you also, my most cherished friend. Consider this a special invitation on a journey to self discovery and development. Lets journey together and discover ways by which we can improve lives not only for ourselves but our fellow humans. Lets impact lives one step at a time with every single deed and word. Once again welcome. All my love to you.

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Of Myths and Misconceptions, then Life

The myths and misconceptions that surround HIV acquisition and living with it are numerous and sometimes very worrying and blissful all at the same time.

Truth is acquiring HIV is one of the easiest and fastest things that could happen to anyone, same way living with HIV though is not one of the easiest things is not the worse thing that could happen to anyone.

I remember so well that in some part of my mind was a tablet of hard rock that believed that I was immune to HIV because of some special genetics that I never had. My life was not the most irresponsible one lived but there were several times that I lived it like a candle in the wind – completely unguarded.

It still very clear to me like the image I see in the mirror everyday the day I got diagnosed of HIV type 1 though it’s been almost two years. Tears don’t come to me easily since I passed my teens but that day I’m sure I would have scored the best mark if it was a competition- I just could not stop myself. “How can I, with an immune gene be infected? How can an empowered person with a lot of resources and information to avoid infection be infected?”

I could not help the tears, most of which was because of the disappointment I saw on the face of the tester (maybe it was all in my head). I was ashamed not because of what life will be with HIV but because of the number of people who will feel disappointed when they get to know. I was pained but I braced myself and walked out smiling, hiding the pain and shame as was very typical of me.

Fast track to almost two years after diagnosis and almost a hear on Anti Retrovirals (ARVs) life is still progressing. Not devoid of the some pain and breakdowns from acquiring what could have been avoided had I paid a little more attention and threaded with a little more caution.

I still don’t have the courage to share my story to large group but I try as much as possible to encourage persons who find themselves in this same dilemma.

Now for those of you reading, there are only three things involved;

* Get tested if you haven’t. It’s the best decision you can ever make.

* If you are negative today, use all means and all resources available and stay negative.

* If you have tested positive- accept the results, start your ARVs as soon as possible and be sure to adhere to your medications religiously. It’s the surest way to live the best life and longer.

Life without HIV is joyful. Life with HIV could be very joyful if you do all the rights things. Don’t wait till it’s too late.

#GetTestedToday#KnowYourStatus#FullnessOfLifeisPossibleWithHIV

Love and Light to You.

Yerenkyi

Why We Fight

About a year or two ago around 11:40am, I received a call from a very decent young man whom I considered a little brother because he happens to be doing something that I also did in the past and still do (peer education). The call was for me to come to the police station at that hour, reason for which I was to come was note really clear, all he could say was that he had been arrested by the police patrol team.

I rushed out of bed to the police station only to realize that we had been arrested alongside another older man( not too old but older than the one whom I considered a brother). The police had arrested them because two of them were sitting at an isolated park that was not too far from their home and workstation respectively. The police suspected that, two men seated an an isolated park alone and in the company of each other meant that they were gay men who were indulging unnatural carnal knowledge which per the law is a crime.
Mind you, My issue is not even about the arrest. It was about the fact that, in order for the police to satisfy their curiosity and make themselves feel good, they had forced the little man to unlock his phone so they can read his messages and chats in the vain of gathering evidence. Gathering evidence when they had not even been charged or had not even written a statement.
Upon my arrival at the station, I inquired about what had happened. Just as “my little brother” was about narrating, the police interjected and said “ we caught them having sex in the park and we have arrested them. We have also seen evidence on his phone that suggests that he is gay and has many boyfriends”. He or his colleague who made the arrest had also said that he had watched him give the other man a blow job and continue to have sex. He (the police) said all these without any evidence to back it.
So I asked that I help them(the two that had been arrested) write a statement but this police man refused with the excuse that, he was not the one that made the arrest and that I should come back the following day which I agreed to. But just as I was heading out of the station, I heard the police say “ open the phone” I turned and objected to this. I said to the police man “ this is not right. It’s invasion of privacy “ He responded saying “ what are you telling me. Even you kraaa I will arrest you because you are part of the people that do this thing (by that, he meant that I was gay too). I laughed soo hard and quizzed him again why he would arrest me and what the charge of the guys were, and which court has ordered him to gather evidence by invading and denying their right to privacy.
He continued to accuse me of challenging him and being an hinderance to the law. Anyway, I left and came back the following day to meet the family of the little boy I considered a brother trying to raise an amount of GHC2000 to settle the police men because according to them, he had promised to quash the case and destroy the video evidence of them having sex which he never had.
The guys were released later that day because we didn’t give up. We went to DOVVSU, insisted that their statement must be written with us present, spoke with the commander, etc.
Now here – I shared this story so we can all see how the rights of certain Ghanaians, human beings are denied immediately the issue of sexuality is raised. I have many doubts this will be the case if the persons involved were “ heterosexual “. Now this is the reason why Human Rights activists are asking for the realization and respect for rights for all persons especially persons considered to be LGBT. The rights that we ask for are not alien rights, the are the same rights and respect all Humans should be entitled to regardless of whatever.
Now to the nay sayers, next time you want to challenge or question why Human Rights activists and Advocates fight for rights of LGBT persons , think about this story and many others like this and some even worse and ask if the constitution allows for this to be done to any citizen.
#LGBTRightsAreHumanRights. #LGBTPersonsAreHumansToo.

Hate Me Not

HATE ME NOT

 

Hate me not

For I made not myself

For I made not my

For like you, the choice of appearance love sexuality

Lies not in our hands

But our maker

 

Order not for my head because of my sexuality or religion

For its the head of your neighbor

Remember the words of the lord you seek to glorify with murder

“Love thy neighbor as thyself”

I hope you have not forgotten..

No reason is too great to kill

 

Love me. Embrace me

For like this I was made

Different from you like the sea is from the land

But together, they make the world a better place

For if you love me. You love God

What happened to the words of the good books

“Beloved let us love, for God is love

And they that love are of and from God

People Like Us.

It’s been over two months and I have not known what it feels like to have a sound sleep. Thoughts of many people like us passing has re- ignited my eusomia to a whole new like I have never experienced ever before.

I have been thinking a lot about the many premature deaths that have saddled our community, deaths that both of  us ( the living and the dead) could have prevented. But, unfortunately we’re unable to because of our prejudice, homophobia and high level of Stigma and Discrimination.

In the weeks ahead of will be sharing with you all some basic facts about STIs, HIV and AIDS. I will also be sharing various stories of queer persons living with HIV in Ghana.

The week ahead will be an invitation to all and sundry to learn, discuss, find ways to help each other but it can’t be a success without us also unlearning and deconstructing some of the constructs we have in our minds.

I’m not Promising a professional session but I’m assuring you that we would learn and improve life for ourselves, especially those who have become victims of our cruel selves which we have in deliberately nurtured if we come with open minds.

The reads to be shared in the coming weeks are part of a series I have themed “People Like”.

Enjoy the rollercoastic ride into the deep.

All my love to you. Cheers.

Hope

On HIV and AIDS. (Hope you’re reading hun. Sorry you had to remind me again)
I’d be brief. HIV is NOT AIDS. While an untreated HIV infection can lead to AIDS, but you must understand that these are two different health conditions. HIV is easily manageable and with proper treatment, you can be ALMOST healthy; AIDS on the other hand refers to an advanced state of HIV in which the immune system is almost completely destroyed. The cd4 cell count is almost useless.

In a layman’s term, Cd4 cells are white blood cells in your body that help fight diseases and provide immunity to the body. HIV virus attacks these cells, glues itself to these cells, makes them weak and  as they multiply, the HIV virus multiplies as well until it takes over the immune system.

HIV is a very manageable condition. When one is on treatment, chances are his viral load (which is the amount of HIV virus cells in his body) would become undetectable. Its usually after 6 months to 1year after one has taken his medication consistently and correctly (this may vary with individuals). You can check your viral load at any ART facility available within your communities. It might cost you a little token.

Now, if his viral load is still detectable, then that means he is still infectious and can infect you. While condoms are great, they’re not 100% effective. HIV is transmitted through exchange of body fluids. Not necessarily semen. You might have a cut or whatever, and you can be infected. This however should not affect your sex life. There’s is a set of medications called PrEP for short. They literally hinder the virus from latching on to your body cells. The doctor will give you PrEP  medications and you go ahead with your condoms. That’s fail proof. Even if there’s a condom tear, as long as you’re on PrEP medications, you can sleep easy. You’re safe and well protected.

NB: PrEP is not readily available in Ghana (Africa). I think PEP is though the process before administration can be a little cumbersome. Please until you know your status and that of your sexual partner or partners – please use a condom and a lubricant consistently and correctly.

PrEP – Pre Exposure Prophylaxis.

PEP – Post Exposure Prophylaxis.
If his viral load is undetectable, then congratulations to you both. You’ve won both the battle and the war. He’s almost ‘cured’. He CAN NO LONGER infect you or anyone else. And as long as he’s on his medications, you can sleep easy. An undetectable viral load is like having GHC 10 in your bank account. Yes. There’s still some money left but its practically useless to you. You cannot withdraw, you cannot do an online transfer to ANOTHER bank. Lol, its basically useless. So once you certify his viral load is undetectable (I strongly recommend six months extra after his first certification), then you can have some skin sex. Make it hot. Make it steamy.
I hope I’ve been able to allay your fears. If your only fear is about his status then please, stay. stick to this one that came clean. He’s a good one. Help him get to an undetectable viral load. Enjoy your love and relationship. And if you ever decide to get married, I love party jollof. Please invite me.
Feel free to ask the doctors other questions. They’re very friendly and supportive.
Best regards.

Credit :Toochi Ugoala