Do you feel insecure, anxious and doubtful whenever you are requested to undertake a HIV/AIDS test? Imagine, this, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are 38 Million people globally living with the virus as at 2019.
In Kenya alone, 1.5 million Kenyans are living with HIV, with the national prevalence rate standing at 4.5 percent.
Thus knowing your status is paramount. That’s not all, taking control of your life is important. So how do we take control of our life amid these staggering statistics? How do we ensure that we prevent the scourge from spreading further?
How is HIV/AIDS transmitted?
There are many ways in which the virus is spread. According to a global body, these methods include.
- Having unprotected sex
- When you come into contact with bodily fluids (Blood, semen and breastmilk) of someone living with the virus.
- Through contaminated blood transfusions.
- From mother-to-baby during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding;
- By sharing injection equipment such as needles especially for people using drugs.
How to prevent spread of the virus
The world now is advocating for safe sex as a way of curbing the disease. Consequently, there are proven ways in which we can protect ourselves from HIV. They include
- Using condoms during sex
- Taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) consistently will protect you from HIV infection through sex.
- Avoid sharing injecting equipment such as needles.
- It has been proven that, effective treatment of the virus can lower the viral load of someone living with HIV. As a result, the viral load can be reduced to such low levels that they are undetectable in a blood test meaning that they cannot pass on HIV to another person.
- Taking HIV treatment if you are a new or expectant mother
Practicing safe sex
In the current age of increased access to content in the digital space, more teens are being exposed to sex early in life. Therefore, not only are they getting exposure from the media but also from their friends.
Having unprotected sex leads to many other complications such as unwanted pregnancy and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) other than HIV.
Safe sex means being in the best mental frame. For example, alcohol and drugs can cause poor judgment and make you make decisions that you would not take while sober.
For a start, condoms are the best way to prevent these complications. It is advisable that we know how to use condoms correctly.
Top tips for using a condom
Best use of a condom is a fundamental rule to safe sex. A good number of people do not know how to use a condom thus negating the whole point of using it. Here are some tips
- No doubling up! One condom at a time is enough. Using two condoms at once is a no-no. Period. Contrary to common myth, using two condoms increases the risk of the condom bursting or slipping off.
- Always use a new condom every time you have sex with a new partner even if you are having two or more simultaneously
- Always check the expiry date
- Always ensure that the condom is close by when you need it. This reduces the urge of having unprotected sex.
- Always ensure that put on a condom before the penis touches your partner’s genitals or mouth.
- Ensure that you pinch the teat at the end of the condom. This ensures that you get rid of air bubbles creating room for semen thus preventing bursting.
Self-Testing at home
In the endeavor to encourage safe sex, one can conveniently test his/herself at home to know their status.
The most popular is A Rapid Self-Test . This is done at home and can produce results within a very short period. A good example of the Rapid Self test is the Oral Quick HIV oral test available at MYDAWA. MYDAWA also has Insti-HIV Self Test which is a single-use HIV Self-Test kit that allows you to get results in minutes in the comfort of your home and at a time that works best for you.
This self-testing kit is affordable and goes for Ksh 150 on MYDAWA and can be ordered here and will be delivered to you within 4 hours if you over between 8 am and 8 pm. In conclusion, whatever you do, ensure that you practice safe sex. This will go along way in saving lives and reduce the spread of the disease.2