Getting infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can seem very unrealistic for some people who still believe HIV is not real or that they are immune eventhough certain behaviours makes them vulnerable to these conditions. There are people who got infected with HIV and could not believe they have it because they never thought their behaviours were risky.
Behaviours and habits like the ones explained below puts a person at a high risk of becoming infected with HIV /STDS.
1. Engaging in sexual practice with a new partner without knowing their HIV status. This is a common practice in Ghana of which the larger population is guilty of. It is the normal practice to meet someone new, date them, get into a relationship and engage in sex without thinking of finding out whether they are infected with HIV or other STDs. This thought of making sure doesn’t occur before most people engage in sexual interaction with said partners therefore exposing you to the possibility of being infected with HIV.
Let’s change the norm. Take the time and be bold to ask for the test. Both partners can go for the test and verify each other’s results before deciding to have sex with him/her. This is about protecting each other’s life. It’s also about building trust which is the basis of a lasting relationship.
2. The Ex-lover syndrome : There is a saying that an old flame easily lights up. This generally means that it is very easy to rekindle an old love affair. Some people can come into contact with their ex boyfriend /girlfriend, ex- husband /wife , and they may decide to hit it off from where they left off. These kind of Sexual engagements are mostly done with little or no regards to protecting oneself because in your minds, you know each other. But the danger in that is, you may know the person very well but not his/her sexual life after you split. You may never know where they have been, who they have been with and what they may be carrying. By having sexual intercourse with such people, you are exposing yourself to HIV/STDs if ;
- Condoms are are not used during sex.
- If both of you do not test and know your HIV status before the sex.
3. Alcohol intoxication and sex.
Making sexual decisions whiles drunk increases your risk of getting HIV infection. Alcohol intoxication has the potential to cloud your judgement and prevent you from making healthy decisions concerning who you have sex with. People tend to have sex with strangers they meet in pubs, and clubs after they take in alcohol. These strangers could be carriers of HIV infection which is transferred to their sex partners. There is also the increased possibility of having sex without the use of Condoms for protection.
Making decisions about sex should be done in a sober state with a clear mind in order to make responsible decisions.
4. Sharing needles and sharp instruments. Reusing needles after it has been used is a dangerous act that can lead to HIV infection if the person who first used it has the infection. People who inject drugs are more vulnerable to this type of spread due to the less concious state and addictive nature of the drugs.
5. Men having sex with men (MSM). Ghana did not use to have this added challenge or vulnerability to HIV infection transmission in the past. But in recent times, there has been cases of men having sex with men and more seriously, the involvement of boys in senior high schools in the practice. This act also increases a person’s risk of becoming infected with HIV /STDs. This is due to the lack of elasticity of the anal region during penetration which bruises the area and as a result causes the presence of blood leading to the direct transmission of the HIV infection. In countries like the USA where the number of Men who have sex with men are large, the HIV rate amongst men is also high.
5. Treating sex as casual.
Sex for some people is a casual thing that needs no deep thinking. Such people are mostly promiscuous because of their lack of recognition of the seriousness of the act of sex and the consequences that could be born out of it. By thinking sex is casual, people are led to approach it with less thought about protecting themselves and their sex partners through the use of condoms and undergoing testing to know their HIV status. People with this mindset also find it difficult to remain faithful to their partners even when they are married. Although being faithful to one partner can protect both of you from getting infected with HIV /STDs.
As an individual, you owe it to yourself to protect your life and promote your health. Make wise decisions that will not affect your life negatively. Be sex smart, be healthy.
HIV /STD Prevention Action
#HIVisreal, #Besexsmart, #testbeforeyousex, #Befaithful