On Thursday, we commemorated World Aids Day with a lot of pomp, ceremony and inspiring messages urging people to go out and get tested. But what if your test results come back positive? How can you deal with such life-changing news? MWERETI KANJO finds out.
Bhatupe Mhango, who has authored a book on living with Aids, discovered she was HIV positive nine years ago. In an earlier Every Woman interview, she admitted that coming to terms with her status was not easy. Like most people, BhatupeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first reaction was denial, because she had tested negative eight months prior.
“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll never forget the conversation I had with the counsellor. I kept repeating that I was not HIV positive.
“Some days, I would look at myself in the mirror and get scared that I had a few months to live. I imagined I would become skinny and die,” explains Bhatupe.
HIV/Aids counsellor at the Dream Centre in Blantyre Maureen Kamponda says everyone needs time to adjust to the news that they have just received.
“No one really expects that they will be found positive; even if they are extremely sick. Therefore, when we give them the news, we encourage them to go home and think about it. We make sure that they know that this is not the end of their life,” says Kamponda.
She advises family and friends to make sure that people who are positive are not left alone because those psychologically affected will ponder over the same thing which can drive them crazy.
“It is easier to cope with the sickness when you know you are loved and accepted as you are. Therefore, it is important that you talk to someone who can give you support. Join church groups or interact with people that understand or others who are sick as well. That way, you encourage each other on medication and living positively,” advises Kamponda.
Live positively, eat well, talk to friends and family and in no time you will realise life does not really change much.