“If you’ve unprotected sex with someone you don’t know, you may get AIDS,” said the lady from TASO. I was in S1 at Kitende SS in 2006 when we got visitors from the TASO camp. If my memory serves me right, the women, most of them widowed wore white tops and red skirts.
It was an afternoon session when these people came. They came in form of a choir made of both men and women but all of them were positive.
They sang songs describing their life situation. A few of them shared their life stories of how they caught the virus and how it took away their loved ones.
Unlike other visitors at school who always had trouble attracting the students’ attention, these got it and in full. I remember the main hall being quiet and some students and teachers silently wiping stray drops of tears.
Later at night after prep time, we reflected about the afternoon session. And the question Barnabas asked that stuck with me to date; How do you tell someone has HIV/AIDS by looking at them?
To date, I have never found that answer.
I had a conversation with a group of people at the Readers Table and the same question was raised.
We live at a time when the age of children born with HIV/AIDS are out of school and already in the working sector.
We live at time when ARVs are in place and when one takes them for a long time, allegedly, the virus disappears from the blood but remains within the cells.
We live at time where some girls at university would rather get AIDS than get pregnant. Is it because they do not have an experience of what it means to take drugs daily for the rest of their life? Or is it because they have never witnessed a loved one die in excruciating pain of the same?
We also live at a time of information age where not every one is necessarily informed. It’s a time when beauty is worth a judgement of someone’s status.
It also happens to be the same time when to sleep not with your partner is no longer news as is the case with being not sleeping at all.
And this has cost us and it is eating us silently buy deeply.
The gospel of ABC which the visitors from TASO preached is preached no more.
Instead people are promised of secondary abstinence, wherever it came from only God can tell.
Once upon a time the first couple of this country took it upon themselves to openly talk about the disease but after getting many awards, they got tired.
To talk about HIV/AIDS is now a thing of the NGOs and some concerned churches. And yet unto us whom the disease affects, we still live large.
We need to own up the situation; identify the sick, treat them but most importantly control the spread of the disease. It begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with us.
We can talk about ending HIV/AIDS again.