Often, we assume HIV is a disease that affects the promiscuous or less educated individuals. On the contrary, HIV and other infections affect ordinary people like you and I. It’s in the church, at the office, in the government and in the neighborhood. Sadly, there was a time when education on HIV was everywhere and people took care of themselves. Now that we have ARVs (PEP & PrEP included) and people are no longer suffering as they used to, we’ve become more careless, brushing shoulder’s with infections and subsequent death. This behavior not withstanding the tons of information bloggers like Ruth Syovata pour on how to protect ourselves. The kind of relationship you have with your intimacy partner could be putting you at the risk of contracting HIV. Here are five types of common relationship situations that make you a high risk individual:
Sleeping with a married man or woman
Okay, let’s address the proverbial elephant in the room. Your sugar mama told you that her husband died. You have no way of confirming that but let’s assume he really did die. What was the cause? An accident, cancer, murder or maybe it was HIV…it’s had to tell isn’t it? In addition, you don’t know if you’re the only Ben10 she has. There could be more of you and that puts you at a very high risk of contracting HIV, because you’re probably sharing her with others who are infected or maybe she was already infected before you met and you don’t know how many others were there before you.
Let’s move on to married men. Maybe he told you he is not having sex with his wife because he hates her and they’re only together because of the kids. Okay…I don’t have to tell you that’s a big fat lie, but I have to tell you, he is sleeping with his wife, because they spend every night together… and you don’t know her status. Neither do you know who else she is sleeping with. You may be thinking it is a safe love triangle but it could be a rectangle, a parallelogram, or even an endless circle of people sleeping with people and diseases circling back.
In a nutshell, when you are in a relationship with an older married or widowed person, you have limited information. All you know is what your partner tells you, which is mostly false information. Moreover, you’re afraid of being seeing with them and the chances of you walking to a VCT center are rare.
Being in an open relationship
Open relationships have become common over time. They work in a polyamorous manner based on a “don’t ask don’t tell” arrangement. If you’re in an open relationship with someone, it means both of you are free to have other relations with other people. Your other relations with these other people are also likely to be open. That brings the number of people involved in the open relationship to roughly 6 or a minimum of 4. Back to “don’t tell don’t ask”, you may know the status of the immediate people you’re sleeping with but you do not know the status of the people they are sleeping with. You are also not about to ask them for these details because such questions complicate the relationship, making it ‘awkward’. This puts you at risk of contracting HIV borrowed from your partner’s partners.
Cheating on your partner
Cheating is not an easy affair. You face constant fear of getting caught. As a result, you may forget to take necessary precaution. One of the most common ways of preventing infections is by using protection. However, you do not want your main chic or wife to find the extra condoms in your coat or bag. If you’re married, you may also face the fear of walking into a shop to ask for condoms, since you haven’t done so in ages.
Having an unfaithful partner
A cheating partner brings a lot of things home. Guilt gifts, arguments, heartbreaks and diseases. You may be taking all the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe but your partner is not, what are the risks? You probably know their promiscuous behavior and you’ve accepted that they will never change. This however means you’ve accepted the possibility of contracting and living with HIV. When you turn a blind eye on your partner’s promiscuity, you’re not only endangering your life but also the future of your children.
Having sexual flings
A fling sounds, like a fresh, modern term. Well, it’s not. Previously it used to be “friends with benefits”. Right before that we had, “lovers with no strings attached”. All these terms describe people who have not committed to a relationship but want to enjoy sex or intimacy. They probably look for each other when their sexual needs become unbearable. It sounds simple, unlike relationships which are full of arguments and responsibilities. They are however as risky as open relationships. The sheer lack of responsibility for a fling’s feelings and health increases the chances of infections. There is also the possibility of sharing your fling with other people, who could be infected.
Having sex with someone whose status you don’t know
Never ever have sex with people whose HIV status is undisclosed to you. That’s the golden rule. Whether you use protection or not, sex is an emotional affair and a lot of things could go wrong. You could run out of protection, or it could burst. People who look healthy may not always be healthy. Besides, we’ve all heard cases of bitter individuals who keep lists of people they’ve infected and a target to reach. You could be a victim, if you’re too trusting.
One night stands
Finally, the mother of all careless “fun”. You pick up a random stranger at the bar, because you’re young, wild and free…or because you’re nursing a heartbreak. All you want is an adventurous night of fun, but it could be more than that. One night stands are careless. You’re obviously not going to interrogate the stranger. Hard questions like “do you know your status” kill the vibe as Ruth Syovata puts it. All you’re required to do is get a room and smash it, then either leave or get rid of the one night stand before daylight. If you’re into this kind of stuff, just make sure the strangers leave nothing more than their scent as they leave in the ungodly wee hours.
In a nutshell, sex is a fun game, but the fun needs to be regulated. Humans without control are like broken taps… because water is wonderful and important, until it becomes uncontrollable. A minute of fun could turn into a lifetime of pain, if you do not take the necessary precaution. The solution is simple, abstinence, protection and faithfulness. Most importantly however, do not have sex with people whose status you do not know.
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By Kinyanjui Alexander
Inspired By UrbanArt 254