HIV/AIDS; God got me from craws of death

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OP-ED- As they say, Life is a journey of happiness and sorrow, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. In my S.6 vacation I had an unusual situation that changed the course of my life forever.

I was a shy and quiet young man in my A-Level, innocent you might say but I had that Rwandan girl who had colonized my heart during those two years and her name was Stella.

Stella was discerning, quick-witted and shrewd on top of being beautiful. Many of her friends were boys, one of whom was Alfred a close friend of mine who knew that I crushed on her.

When we were leaving for our vacation, Alfred invited me to a get together party and was told that Stella was leaving for her home country in a few weeks’ time.

On 15th March 2012 at Divine Pub along Entebbe road, I had a night that would change the rest of my life. I was eager to at least say a word to Stella at the party but I got that and more.

In the wee hours of the night as most of our friends had blacked out, Stella and I ended up having sexual intercourse in the bathrooms but I don’t remember how that came about. I remembered in the morning because of the pain I had since I was a virgin before that fateful night.

After that night, life went on smoothly and I applied and got admitted at Makerere University.

At the beginning of second semester of first Year, I got admitted at a hospital because of Malaria. My Elder brother insisted that I should do a full body checkup because of the persistence of my sicknesses.

After one hour, the Doctor came back with the worst news I have ever been told. I was told I was HIV positive. I couldn’t understand because I’d only had sex once and I thought Stella was too young to be infected with HIV/AIDS.

This was confirmed after I visited several hospitals. I started developing anxiety disorders, depression, anger, sadness and frustration. Sleeping in bars became the norm of the day.

The change of my behavior alarmed my parents a lot and they started contemplating removing me from school but I was defended by my brother who promised to watch out for me.  

I continued with my reckless lifestyle in second year but nothing helped ease the pain so I started contemplating committing suicide.

I decided to go out one night for one last drink and while going home to end it all, I bypassed a church and heard people praying. A voice told me to enter and see those people who still had hope in life.

The preacher read out a verse that night that kept ringing in my head for a few weeks finally leading to my salvation, it was from Psalms 34:4-5, “I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

That night proved to be the turning point in my life because after a few months, I resumed studying and went for monthly counseling sessions and started taking ARVS.

Ten years down the road I’m healthy, employed and still able to work on my daily activities like any other person.

Like the lyrics from Philly Bongoley’s song say, “Today it’s me, tomorrow someone else,” let’s cooperate and fight for those who are infected, most of whom face discrimination. Let’s provide them a platform to live a positive life.

To the youths out there, HIV is real. A night’s pleasure can cost you the happiness of the rest of your life. Wear that condom if you can’t access a hospital for checkup. Stay safe, stay protected.