It was March, towards the end of the second term. Health officers from the World Health Organization walked around the school compound dressed in white laboratory coats and protective coverings. The principal had informed us earlier about their visit to the school. They had come to enlighten us and give lectures on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) and also conduct medical tests on the students. The principal instructed all the students to converge at the school hall for the health talk by the officers. When everything had been put in place and all the students now at decorum, a female doctor mounted the stage.
“Good afternoon students. My Name is Dr Odeyemi Oluwabukola from the University of Benin teaching hospital” she said in a sweet voice which sent chills down my spine. All the students gave a round of applause.
“My team and I have been directed here to your school, Sunshine Comprehensive College to carry out tests and also give protective vaccines against sexually transmitted infections, but before we do that, I’d like to enlighten you about what sexually transmitted infections are” she sniffed.
“Sexually Transmitted Infections are also known as sexually transmitted diseases STDs or venereal diseases VD. Some STDs can spread through the use of unsterilized drug needles, from mother to infant during childbirth or breast-feeding, and blood transfusions. The genital areas are generally moist and warm environments, ideal for the growth of yeasts, viruses, and bacteria. People can transmit microorganisms that inhabit the skin or mucous membranes of the genitals. Infectious organisms can also move between people in semen, vaginal secretions, or blood during sexual intercourse.
Most individuals pass on STDs more easily when they are not using contraceptive devices, such as condoms, dams, and sanitised sex toys. They also pass it through unsterilized objects like razor blades, injection needles and clippers.
Human immunodeficiency virus, HIV is a virus that attacks immune cells called CD4 cells, which are a type of T cells. These are white blood cells that move around the body, detecting faults and anomalies in cells as well as infections. When HIV targets and infiltrates these cells, it reduces the body’s ability to combat other diseases. This increases the risk and impact of opportunistic infections and cancers. However, a person can get infected with HIV without experiencing its symptoms for a long time. HIV is a lifelong infection. However, receiving treatment and managing the disease effectively can prevent HIV from reaching a severe level and reduce the risk of a person passing on the virus.”
“Causes” she proceeded.
“People transmit HIV in bodily fluids like; blood
anal fluids breast milk.
The early symptoms of HIV infection may include: Fever
Sweats. Particularly at night Enlarged glands
A red rash
Tiredness and weakness Unintentional weight loss.
Symptoms of late-stage HIV infection may include: Blurred vision
Diarrhea, which is usually persistent or chronic. Dry cough
A fever of over 100 °F (37 °C) lasting for weeks Night sweats
Shortness of breath, or dyspnea
Swollen glands lasting for weeks Unintentional weight loss
White spots on the tongue or mouth”.
“HIV is a dangerous disease and no cure is currently available for HIV or AIDS. However, treatments can stop the progression of the condition and allow most people living with HIV the opportunity to live a long and relatively healthy life.” Dr Odeyemi concluded.
“In addition, also remember that being HIV positive is not the end of life as you can still do many great things in life. Best regards!” Dr Odeyemi said as she left the podium.
That week, the health officials performed tests and and vaccinated over two hundred junior students with no cases of STDs before they reached the senior classes.
“No one can be infected with HIV/AIDS in our school after all we are still young” I said to myself. Throughout that week, Tunmise and I still meet every day, having sex every now and then.