By Uchenna Ezenwa Akujobi
Many of us think we don’t like medication, especially the tablet forms. Personally I can barely finish a three day course of oral antimalarial medications. Recently I realised when water pass garri, leave am. You go swallow tablet, sotey tablet sef go fear you.
Allow me to introduce you guys to what we the “HIV doctors” call Post Exposure Prophylaxis For HIVAIDS (PEP).
PEP is a medical term used to refer to a combination of highly active antiretroviral medications given to an individual who is not seropositive to HIV but has been exposed to the virus. It prevents the virus from establishing an infection allowing this individual to remain negative despite the exposure. PEP is one of the main reasons a rape victim should see a doctor immediately and not hide at home because of fear of the stigma.
I met a beautiful young lady a while ago. She was travelling from Lagos to Port Harcourt at night and her bus was attacked by a gang of armed robbers somewhere very far from her destination. She was raped by at least three different men that night. It must’ve been horrible. You see, she had a very good knowledge of her cycle and she believed she was ovulating at the time so she came in asking for some emergency contraceptives.We ran some tests and I talked to her about PEP. She had no idea stuff like that existed. Our talk opened her eyes to a whole new range of possibilities. Rape is a horrible thing and pregnancy is not the worst possible outcome.
She was glad she came in early enough to benefit from PEP. She took the medications plus the contraceptives plus some prophylactic antibiotics for STIs and she got some good counselling. You see, there is quite a lot of medical care a rape victim should get. We followed her up. Till today she’s negative for HIV and she neither contracted any STIs nor got pregnant.
Now back to my discordant couple.
You see while I was talking to Oga, he wasn’t surprised he was negative. His main concern was her status.
Him: “Doc thank you for everything. But I’m not leaving here today without a copy of both my result and hers.”
Me: “My brother, it’s not within my powers to tell you your fiancée’s status.”
Him: “Nonsense!!! Doc don’t make me angry abeg…I have the right to know, after all, I paid for the tests.”
Me: “I can’t agree with you more on the fact that you have a right to know but you see, no be who call police dey win case. No be who pay for test dey collect result. Na only the person wey dem collect blood from. Na him fit collect result.”
Him: “Doc, this is rubbish naaaah!!”
He was angry. I wasn’t even bothered. For some reason I loved the anger… All I needed to do was point it in the right direction and we’d all be fine. I went on and on to explain in detail, why I couldn’t disclose her status without her consent. The more I talked, the more curious and anxious he got.
When it was obvious I would not tell him anything, Oga stormed out of the office screaming her name. How many of you have seen the movie Troy? You know how Achilles screamed Hector’s name at the Gates of Troy like “Hector! Hector!! Hector!!!” calling him out for a fight. Ehen, that was how it was.
I knew something terrible was about to happen… I could see them having a heated argument in front of the hospital.
The Receptionist had already called security but as they came, I signaled them to let it all play out.
Apparently, madam was holding on to the lab results and refusing to tell him. Seemed like she told him it was negative but he insisted he’d see the paper; the copy we gave her. Soon they were dragging the paper. I heard her say “In fact if you do this, I won’t marry again” – for where? Oga no send, he was trying to force the paper out of her hand like his life depended on it, well actually, his life did depend on it sha.
They say love is blind. But I believe at that moment love had finally gone to see an ophthalmologist and got herself a pair of glasses.
Security walked up to me “Oga, you say make we leave these pple mk dem fight here?”
Me: “Just allow them small first, I go tell una when to separate them.”
I don’t support violence of any form but you see this one eh, leave am, my hand no dey, after all I wasn’t there when they were having a dark fellowship on Saturday night. The Receptionist came to join my seat and offered me some of the Pringles she was eating. It was classic- Like we were at the cinema and the movie was on point.
Soon, he left her. He was yelling something in his local dialect. It sounded like he was saying “Give me that paper 1, give me that paper 2, give me that paper 3…He was counting down… he must’ve said she must give him the thing before the count of 10 or there about. As he reached 9, he continued – give me that paper 9, give me that… give me that paper 9 and half, give me that paper 9 and a quarter…
Next thing I heard was ‘TUUUUWAAAAAIIIII!!!!”
I was like the blood of…
He landed her what I must confess is the loudest and dirtiest slap I’ve ever seen. Everyone, from the security guys to the receptionist down to me and passersby held their cheek like it affected all of us. The slap was like a Mike Tyson punch; She fell flat on d floor and started crying. Then she let go of the paper and he took it from her hand. He opened it.
The look on his face mehhnnn..He started crying too.
Him: “Baby you’ve killed meee!!!!” (He wept)
Then I signaled security to make sure he didn’t hit her anymore. .
The movie was over, actor daan kill boss… I left the cinema and went to wait for them in d consulting room.
Soon they were both in my office…
Him: “Doc so what do I do?”
Me: “Well, you love each other enough to get married so, there is no reason you should not proceed.”
Him: “Doc You said what? Ior? Love what? Is this how God wants to punish me for what I did?
Me: “My brother, leave God out of this.”
Madam was sitting there looking at us… I believe the slap was still ringing in her ears.
Him: “So Doc what do I do now?”
Me: “You’d take some medications, provided you are not in the window period…”
Him: “I don’t understand.”
I went on to explain everything in detail. PEP and the window stage of the infection and all.
Him: “Doc the only time I’ve had sex since I gave my life to Christ 7 years ago is this past saturday… I couldn’t have been exposed before now.”
Me: “Well, you’d never know, my job is to give you information with which you can make the right decision.”
Him: “Doc I swear I’ve been keeping myself
Me: “Yea, me too.”
Madam was crying. .
He ignored her.
Him: “Doc when can I start the meds?”
He was eager to start them.
Me: “Right away sir.”
Him- what about her?
Me: “We would run some confirmatory tests first and then place her on some meds as well…that’s if we confirm she’s positive.”
Me: “Now let’s talk about you two love birds and your forth coming wedding.”
Him: “Abeg Doctor respect yourself, which love birds and which wedding, in fact I’m leaving her here and I’m going home. You can marry her if you like.”
I went on to explain that with good adherence to ARTs, she would be fine and they could get married and have healthy kids…
Him: “All this one you dey talk na Nigerian film e dey happen… Please Doc I’m going. I’d come back when the meds have finished as we discussed. You can give her, her own drugs, I’d pay. He left her with me and walked away.
For my mind I was like- this dude actually said I should marry his fiancé and then he left her here with me. Shey una dey c trouble, Shey una dey see?
So I called security and asked them to call him back…he came.
Him: “Doc what is it?”
Me: “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
Me: “You left your wife here.”
Him: “Doc I’m single.”
I went on to counsel this guy for hours – talking about the negative role his behaviour towards her has played in our fight against HIV / AIDS. It is this kind of behaviour that has made people living with HIV/AIDS stay in hiding and refuse medical care. Many commit suicide and some wait for the inevitable death to come declining ARTS or any medical assistance.
Me: “Oga what you’re doing now is called stigmatization. And it’s more harmful than the disease itself.”
Oga started his meds. He’d call me every day to tell me he just took the one for the day. It looked like he loved swallowing tablets so one day over the phone I asked him:
Me: “E b like say you like medicine before oo. The way you dey take this meds eh…”
Him: “Doc, I never see person wey hate tablet pass me but you see this one, leave am, my life depends on this thing. So far say hope dey…I go take am, the medicine just be like chocolate for my eye…”
Today is the 6th week since he commenced PEP.
He’s still sero negative. ..
He has vowed never to do bad things again. God has forgiven him and saved him….
Any similarity with persons in the above story and any other person living, dead or in between is surely a coincidence.
Uchenna Ezenwa Akujobi studied Medicine and Surgery in the University of Port Harcourt. He is a stock trader, a practicing doctor; and writing happens to be one of many things he is very fond of. He is passionate about sharing authentic and useful health information with the public in forms that are very interesting, easy to read and relate to. When not relating with humans he spends time grooming and raising his dogs.