It’s Halloween—the fright-fest movies are playing nonstop on HBO and the kids went all out again in their nastiest, goriest, or Disney-princess-inspired costumes.
And yet what really scares you are not those things that go bump in the night… what’s been freaking you out are the sore bumps in your genitalia.
You immediately think it’s HIV. You reckon you got it from sharing utensils with a friend who’s living with HIV.
So even before Freddy Krueger could utter “nightmare,” you went ahead and bought a bagful of over-the-counter antibiotics that you’re certain would cure you.
If you’ve been in this situation or a similar circumstance, don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has been misinformed.
LoveYourself has always received queries online and even from walk-in clients about their supposed symptoms of HIV.
And before, HEAVENS FORBID, you experience any nasty side effect from self-medication, let this version of “Trick or Treat” inform you more on HIV.
“I’ve had multiple partners in the past. I probably have HIV now.”
TRICK. Having multiple partners does not instantly result in getting HIV. If you’ve been practicing safer sex by using condoms during the act, this potentially lowers your chances of getting infected.
“I’ve had sex last night with someone who seems to be living with HIV. I’m running a high fever this morning. This must be HIV.”
TRICK. There’s a 3-6 month window period before the HIV antibodies can be accurately detected in a screening. This does not mean though that you’re not yet infected with HIV. A person living with HIV can also feel and look completely healthy for many years but this person may also be transmitting the virus.
TREAT: Practice TSC or the Triangle of Self-Care:T: Timely Testing and TreatmentS: Safe and Satisfying SexC: Correct and Consistent Use of Condoms with Water-Based Lubricant
“I visited a friend who’s living with HIV. A mosquito bit me while I was in the area. I may be infected with HIV if that mosquito also bit my friend.”
TRICK. No one gets HIV from mosquito bites. A mosquito cannot carry HIV to infect anyone. HIV cannot live inside a mosquito, so it dies inside the insect straight away. You also won’t get HIV from merely talking, kissing, swimming, sharing utensils or the toilet with someone who’s living with HIV. The primary mode of HIV infection is still through sexual contact.
TREAT. If you’ve been practicing protected sex and veer away from drugs, observe the proper precautions as well in instances when you’ll be needing blood transfusion. Contaminated blood is another way by which HIV is transmitted.
“Sores have appeared on my genitalia. This is a symptom of HIV.”
TRICK. It may not be HIV, but it may still be another kind of STI—Sexually Transmitted Infection. HIV is just one kind of infection that you may get from unprotected sex. Other kinds of STI include genital warts, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, etc.
While these other kinds of STI do not instantly equate to having HIV, they do significantly raise your risk factor of getting HIV.
Among the common signs of STI are genital ulcerations or sores, abdominal pain, severe genital itchiness, pain during intercourse, yellowish or abnormal genital discharge, and prominent pain in passing urine.
TREAT. Screening is the best, if not the only, way to diagnose an STI. Consult a specialist for this. If it is diagnosed as such, the full dose of prescription drug should be taken and the sexual partner should also be treated. Sexual contact should also be avoided during treatment. Condom use is advised thereafter to prevent infecting any other partner with STI.
LoveYourself offers Syphilis screening along with our HIV testing.
For further STI consultation, you may also visit:
- DOH accredited private clinics and hospitals
- Social Hygiene Clinics and City Health Offices
- STD and AIDS Central Control Laboratory (San Lazaro Hospital Compound) Sta. Cruz, Manila
- Remedios Health Clinic and Laboratory, Manila and Cebu City
“I’m scared now that I haven’t undergone HIV screening. But I’m more scared of what happens if I do test positive for HIV.”
TRICK. Fear is normal. It’s a primal emotion. The cavemen used to fear the shadows at night too, until the discovery of fire made them realize that they’ve been scared of twigs and branches all along. Fear should be a transitory feeling that enables you to inch closer and face the unknown.
TREAT. LoveYourself is here to help you! We have a dedicated case management team ready to guide you through the HIV screening. You may also fill out our online form (http://www.loveyourself.ph/p/i-want-to-get-tested.html) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also personally visit us at LoveYourself Anglo located at Unit 5, 3/F, Anglo Building, #715-A Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City or at LoveYourself Hub (a.k.a. RITM Satellite Clinic) located at 1936-B San Marcelino Street, near corner Quirino Ave. Malate, Manila
Rest assured, LoveYourself values client confidentiality at all times.
Text by Hershey Homol