Di last time Paul Thorn see im parents, dem troway di plate im bin take eat out of fear of infection.
When im get di HIV diagnosis for 1988, im get to stop im training as a nurse.
“I live my entire 20s in fear,” im tok.
Now Paul, wey dey based in di UK, hardly dey think about di virus – except for taking one medicine a day and to dey visit im doctor twice a year.
Pipo with HIV wey dey receive treatment dey enjoy normal lifespans – and outdated and incorrect views say you fit catch di virus from sharing a plate don dey die away. But damaging misinformation still dey circulate.
‘E get cure’
Dem born Doreen Moraa Moracha from Kenya with HIV, but she only find out about her diagnosis for 2005, at di age of 13.
Na one TV advertisement na im lead her to one local man for Tanzania wey claim to be healer, say im fit cure Doreen and her mother of HIV.
“We drink di herbal medication wey im bin dey sell and we come back believing say we don dey HIV negative.”
Sake of dat, she stop to take her anti-retrovirals – drugs wey dey stop di virus to multiply – until she catch shingles and pneumonia as a result of her weakened immune system.
Her viral load – di count of how much HIV dey di blood – bin dey so high sotay her doctor tell her say if she catch anoda infection e for kill her. Na dia she come realise say dat healer na scammer.
But di wider claim say cure don dey for HIV na common one, according to Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, wey be infectious disease doctor and President of International AIDS Society.
Currently, no vaccine or cure dey for HIV, although recent tori about pipo wey don recover from di virus don raise hopes.
Dis month, one woman for Argentina become di second documented pesin in history to become HIV-free, through her own immune system.
‘You go always dey infectious’
Joyce Mensah – wey from Ghana but move to Germany to escape stigma – say she believe say misconceptions about her condition make her to lose her job, relationships and force her to leave her home kontri.
She say wetin dey drive di stigma na di mistaken view say once pipo catch HIV, dem always dey at risk of passing it on to dia partner or pikin.
“Wen pesin reveal dia HIV status to family member or partner…pipo get dis misconception say e no dey 100% safe, once you dey positive, you dey positive”.
In fact, once pesin take anti-retroviral medication for long, wey be say dem no fit detect any virus for dia blood, e no go fit pass am to anoda pesin as measurable infection no dey for dem to transmit.
Joyce get four children while she dey on treatment, none of dem contract di virus. Mother-to-child transmission dey preventable with proper treatment and since e don become more widely used, incidences don cut down to half worldwide since 2010.
Despite dis, school authority send her daughter wey dey Ghana from school sake of false belief say she too get di virus – and she fit infect odas.
Ian Green, di chief executive of UK charity, di Terrence Higgins Trust, wey dey live with HIV, say, “di biggest single issue for pipo living with HIV, and certainly my experience as well, na often because you view yoursef as a vector for disease.
“For many years, I bin dey fear say I fit transmit di virus to somebodi else. To know now say e dey impossible for me to transmit di virus, dey hugely liberating”.
‘HIV no be problem anymore’
While HIV no longer be death sentence, and pipo with di virus fit live normal and healthy lives, some campaigners believe say perceptions dey flipped too far di oda way.
“E don get amazing progress for HIV treatment and prevention tools, but dis perception say AIDS dey over, in terms of prevention work – no dey terribly helpful, and certainly in terms of investing in di search for HIV cure”,” na so Dr Kamarulzaman tok.
HIV na di virus wey dey attack di immune system and if e dey untreated e fit lead to AIDS – disease wia di body no fit fight off even mild infections.
For 2020, about 38 million pipo worldwide dey live with HIV and roughly 700,000 die from AIDS-related illnesses, wey fit be di result of di virus going untreated.
Paul Thorn believe say younger pipo dey see am as old pipo disease, a sentiment wey Ian Green of di Terrence Higgins Trust sef get.
Im say dem get a “generally lower awareness… dem think say HIV na something wey dey di past”.
‘I no be di kain pesin wey fit get HIV’
Just as young pioo see am as old pipo illness, many see di virus as something wey dey only affect gay men.
Worldwide, just over half of pipo with HIV na women and e be di biggest killer of women of reproductive age globally, according to Christine Stegling of charity Frontline AIDS.
But few women she tok to dey aware of dia risk.
“Na very important data point to engage with because women wey dey dat age group and women wey go want get belle don get difficult conversations about unprotected sex,” she tok.
While dem don make huge progress, misinformation wey still dey circulate fit leave pipo without jobs, relationships, di right treatment or even a diagnosis in di first place.