I was just about to grab my towel to have my bath this evening when a call came in from an unfamiliar number. It was however, a local mobile number and so I figured it wasn’t one of those unwanted telemarketing calls.
“Hello? Is this Ms Afizah from Buddies?”
Ahah, a Buddies related call, it wasn’t a telemarketing call, thank God! The guy wanted to know how many days it would take after possible transmission of HIV, for symptoms to show, and what the symptoms are.
I told him that the only way to know if one is infected is to go for blood tests. And I reminded him that even then, he’d have to take into consideration the “window period”, when even blood tests aren’t able to detect although that person is already infected. And so if the first blood test comes out negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is free from the virus. He is advised to go for another blood test after 3 months to be sure.
Many people seem to think that there’d be symptoms to show that one has been infected with HIV. Most, if not all, of my very own clients never knew they had HIV until they got tested due to other reasons. Many, during their pregnancy, while some when they got tested for other ailments. And based on some of my clients’ stories, a few of their spouses died without even knowing they had HIV.
Makcik Minah, a client whom I never got to meet, only found out about her HIV at the age of 74, 10 years after her husband passed on. She never figured out how she got infected. Chances were, it was through her late husband, who himself never knew he had HIV.
When Fuzi was first diagnosed HIV+, her husband had passed on a few years earlier. After an alleged rape case, Fuzi got pregnant, and it was during this out-of-wedlock pregnancy that she found out she was HIV+. Fuzi was convinced her HIV infection was due to the rape case. She was so worried that her baby, her 5th child, would be infected. Well, that baby was spared from HIV after all the necessary precautions were taken. But to her surprise, it was her 4th son, with her late husband, who was diagnosed HIV+. So Fuzi’s HIV infection wasn’t from the rape case after all. She got it from her late husband, a frequent visitor to Southern Thailand. He probably died without even knowing he had HIV.
Many others knew about their HIV infection years after being infected. Maybe they too thought they weren’t infected since they felt just fine; despite knowing that they were involved in activities exposing them to HIV infection. That is until many years later when they start getting other opportunistic diseases.
So people, if you had ever been involved in activities which may have exposed you to HIV infection, go for voluntary testing okay? Don’t wait until you have passed the virus to someone else (like your spouse) before taking that step.