The Freedom of Knowing 101
The feeling of "invulnerability" in relation to HIV risk and the belief that "it can't happen to me" often comes to our mind when we think of ourselves in relation to HIV infection. Normal "risk-taking" is a youth behaviour and, at times the greater and immediate concern is issues such as pregnancy.
This year, I have come up with one grand resolution; to help 1 million of my peers to make a resolution to test for HIV before the end of 2010. The birth of the J1M campaign is from a deep passion of wanting to have the youth participate in issues that affect them, knowing that they represent the greatest force of hope to a world full of misery and starvation . Obviously, courage is necessary in testing for HIV. By now, a fair number Kenyans have been provided with information of the massive benefits of knowing their HIV status. Sadly, only a third of the kenyan population know their HIV status.
While conceptualizing JIJUE 1 Million campaign, I became more aware of things that prevent the youth from taking the HIV test. I discovered that the other youth, just like me, fear of our parents and this prevents us from taking the test. I know that several of our parents would consider us as sexually active if we mention that we went for a HIV test. Thus we opt to bury our heads in the sand and ....It is true that majority of us would not want to got for a HIV test because of perceived low risk. On the other hand, there is always the self-perception of not having had sex with an infected person .... which also leads to denial.
Whereas all these are valid fears, and its human to feel so, the fact is that knowledge of one’s HIV status is the gateway to treatment, care and support and generally, freedom of mind. HIV testing is a filtering process guiding the next steps ... to either treatment or prevention.
The unfortunate practice is that testing only becomes necessary when someone falls sick. From experience, testing done without the compelling reasons (such as ill health) is much more beneficial to both HIV positive and negative people.
What we need to do is work around changing these fears and misconceptions to and mainstream HIV testing in our lives, just the way we for for annual medical check up.