Why Is HIV Testing Important?

 Why is HIV testing important?

I remember trying to save a little bird that fell off the nest and was being eaten alive by ants. I so desperately wanted it to live; I dug up worms and gave it water. Even as a little girl growing up in the township, something within me aspired to save lives regardless of what or whose they were.

I guess that’s what being a medical doctor is all about. Saving lives. It is something I can’t separate from my core. In addition to being a doctor, I am a daughter, an African child and a woman. There is a life source inside of me that falls apart when I throw rose petals on premature graves, such as when Aids unjustly claims a fellow human being.

 

The stats speak for themselves…

According to Statistics South Africa’s Statistical Release (P0302) Mid-year population estimates 2017, the estimated overall HIV prevalence rate among the South African population is approximately 12,6%. The report estimated that there were about 7 million people in South Africa living with HIV in 2017.

 

“South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world, with 19% of the global number of people living with HIV, 15% of new infections and 11% of AIDS related deaths,” states UNAIDS website. UNAIDS is one of the leaders propelling global efforts to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Why is HIV testing important?

Knowing your HIV status enables you to take better charge of your health and to protect other people. A person who is infected with HIV does not immediately get sick. Furthermore, there may be a window period, which means it is possible to infect others with HIV before you know your HIV status.

 

I can’t say this enough: HIV is not a death sentence. Just like diabetes and high blood pressure, HIV can be controlled through healthy living and taking treatment as directed by your health practitioner. Also, contrary to traditional folklore, you can’t tell when someone is HIV positive by merely looking at them. Only by testing can this be known. Contact U-Care Medical Centre for HIV counselling and testing without delay.

 

When you’ve got to test for HIV

 

  • If you had unprotected sex (sex without a condom) or if the condom tore in any way
  • If you have been exposed to someone’s blood without protection
  • If you are a drug user who has shared needles
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are HIV positive and have a child, then you should take your child for testing
  • If you have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
  • If you have Tuberculosis

 

In as much as it might seem like a gloomy scenario, there is hope. I have seen it. UNAIDS confirms this flicker of light by stating that “South Africa has the largest treatment programme in the world, accounting for 20% of people on antiretroviral therapy globally.”

 

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I will repeat it: HIV is by no means a death sentence, a curse or a condition worthy of stigma. Testing and going on treatment can make all the difference. There really is hope. I have seen it.

 

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