I was with a friend when we saw the sign in front of a church gate. The irony of it was that the street was popularly known to be a pick up point for prostitutes and clients. These sex workers line up from the beginning of the street all the way down to the end. Some even made the front of this church’s gate their pick up spot. Perhaps enraged by this immoral and demeaning business deals between men and women, especially at their doorstep; the church authorities decided to clearly remind both client and worker that AIDS is real, by boldly putting up this sign: DO YOU KNOW YOUR HIV STATUS? KEEP MOVING…

My friend and I found it rather hilarious, and didn’t stop laughing for a long time after we drove past the street. But it got me really thinking after I sobered up. Really, how many Nigerians know their HIV status? How many even care or should I say dare? Yes dare.
In marriages today, unlike the days of our fathers and mothers, the rate of infidelity is on the all time high. Husbands cheat on wives, and wives do the same. The wives cannot tell their husbands to use a condom, even when they know their husbands sleep around with women of all shapes, sizes and colours. The husbands do not wear condoms because even though they suspect foul play, they haven’t yet caught their lovely wives in the act, and there’s really no evidence to prove it, just a hunch. So they continue with their marital obligations till say she gets pregnant, and during the routine test, discovers she is HIV positive, and then they know! They could have done their medical check ups much earlier to become more aware of their health and safety, but who would dare? The thought of the possibility is killing already, so they do nothing until it stares at them right in the eye.
These days, it doesn’t matter if the man looks like the Chimpanzees’ cousin, or the woman looks like a toad’s sister, as long as they have money, you find the opposite sex flocking around them. Gone are the days when it was about values, convictions and love. Now all those qualities are thrown out of the window and traded with flashy cars, trips abroad and magnificent houses. But do they know their HIV status? More often than not, they really don’t care.
There seems to be a craze for same sex flesh in this part of the world, if you know what I mean. We copy everything the western world promotes, even at our detriment. A full bodied man would offer his butt to be ravaged by another man! I used to wonder why adult pampers were selling like hot cake, until I was told by a doctor that a lot of gay men wear them. The elasticity of their butt has slackened so much that they cannot control what comes out of their asshole! So ladies when next you’re checking out that brother that seems to have a full round butt, make sure you do a double check o! He may be wearing adult diapers… and does he know his HIV status? Who knows?
I watched a local movie recently; I am particularly addicted to Yoruba movies, which I use to tune up my Yoruba accent when I speak the language as well. In this movie, these lesbian friends always used a ‘dildo’ to experience sexual pleasure. However, one of them also had a boyfriend on the side. Eventually, she got sick and was discovered to be infected with HIV, of course her boyfriend had it, and her dildo partner had it as well. A very vicious circle, don’t you think? At least they know their HIV status.
Today, parents send their children to higher institutions praying that they have instilled enough moral values in them to enable them stay focused and un-swayed by the high temptations they will eventually encounter. Our youths now have a desperate aura. They want to get rich quick, and because they are celebrated by their peers, it doesn’t matter how you “hammer,” just “hammer!” They are going through life without any leash. The girls sleep around with all sorts of men, mostly old enough to be their grand dads (popularly called ‘Aristos’) to get money, look flashy and trying hard to ‘belong.’ The irony is some of them use their ‘Aristo’ money to take care of their ‘small’ campus boyfriends still trying to put their feet on the ground. Thank God these days our young boys seem to understand the importance of using protection. Having condoms in their wallets is now a fashion statement, if not, these ‘runs’ girls would have probably wiped out our upcoming mobile men; because if you ask them if they know their HIV status, their answer would most likely be: Who cares? Bring me the money!
There are many youths out there who are positively living with HIV. They have checked their status and are presently getting the right treatment to sustain their lives so they can lead and live normally. The earlier one discovers, the earlier one is quickly given the proper medication and guidelines for longer life.
People living with it are still full of life, ambitious and love because unlike most of us, they know their HIV status and are making the effort to manage it.
I could really go on and on, the list seems endless. Even though sex plays a prominent role in the spread of this deadly disease, other areas need to checked as well. Sharing of needles, pins, razors and the likes, need to be avoided. Avoid used sharp objects. Try not to share manicure and pedicure tools and clippers in salons, go with yours. Get new needles to fix your weave-on. Don’t go near blood with your exposed wound. Don’t accept unscreened blood for transfusion. Do not have multiple sex partners. Practice abstinence until marriage (please ensure you are both tested before heading to the altar).
Bottom line… Be safe and try to remain so.
Take the bold step to go to a good hospital and any appropriate centre to get tested. It is better to know your HIV status, before you continue moving.
(From the “Living it up” series)

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