Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When love becomes pricy


By Meluse Kapatamoyo

For most women, being in love, means throwing caution to the wind. The thought of ever being betrayed by their significant other is implausible.

Like many women, when Martha Ngoma, 28, met Nathan, she thought she had found the love of her life - the man she would spend the rest of her life with. (Real names withheld to protect and respect their privacy)

Martha recounted how they instantly became good friends and in no time started dating. She said that they had so much in common and he was well mannered, educated and blessed with dashing looks.

"But what I loved most was his kind nature. For the first time in my life, I was able to be completely vulnerable with a man and yet still feel safe,” she added.

Although she was quick to point out that the relationship was not perfect, Martha said the differences only seemed to make the relationship stronger.  At least that is what she thought until a year later when she discovered her boyfriend had been cheating.

She was devastated. Not only because her prince had turned into a frog, but she feared that her reluctance to insist on using condoms in their relationship may have left her vulnerable to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), especially HIV.

“I think i was more worried about getting pregnant. We only used condoms during my danger days when there was a possibility that I could get pregnant,” said Martha who only shrugged her shoulders and looked rather embarrassed when asked if there was ever a moment she thought about the possibility of contracting HIV.

To clear her conscience, Martha decided to have a complete screening for all STIs.

Fortunately, the results were negative. But just as she was beginning to get on with her life, she received some rather disturbing news - Her ex-boyfriend's other lover was HIV positive. The information came from a credible source who knew the girl well.

The informant advised Martha to get tested so that she could know her status. In denial, she phoned her ex boyfriend so he could refute the claims but his answer shocked her.

A teary Martha said “he straight up told me he knew about her HIV status but insisted he had not slept with her."

Martha narrates how she immediately went numb and then became hysterical. She remembered the nurse insisting that she goes back for another HIV test after 3 months and at that moment it occurred to her that there was a 90 percent chance she could be carrying the virus.

That night, thoughts of how she would tell her family and find the courage to live positively, crowded her mind. Martha was also filled with anger and regret, wishing she had thought of using condoms or  just abstained. Although her ex had denied having sex with his other lover, she wondered at what point in their relationship, the woman had revealed her status to him. Besides, he could not be trusted, he had told so many lies before.

Her only option was to have another HIV test. This time around she knew the results would change her life forever.

“I can’t remember any other time in my life when I have been so scared. Even after counselling, I was still shaking when I took the test. As I waited for the results, I said a prayer asking God to give me the strength to accept what was to come. I knew what the results would be, I just needed confirmation and soon enough it came,” a somewhat relieved but distraught Martha said.

In shock, she asked the nurse if she could run the test again, but was assured that the clinic was very thorough in the way it conducted its tests. She left the clinic dumbfounded, with the counsellor emphasising the importance of abstinence and use of condoms.

“I needed that wake up call. I was leading a very careless life, literally placing my life in someone else’s hands. Had the results been positive, I would have had no one to blame but myself because not once did he force himself on me,” she added.

Martha concluded that "It’s dangerous to think the person you are with only has sex with you alone and not every HIV positive person will reveal his/her status before any sexual contact. Until you someone discloses to you, don't take things for granted in the name of love and trust. In my case, when love comes around, I intend to take charge.”

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a great story and an eye opener for women of ALL ages. You have one life to live, protect it with all you have.

Anonymous said...

life has to be treasured and u can only demonstrate u love life by controlling it. Dont allow unless u have proof u are all -x-= -

Anonymous said...

When you sleep with someone, you are sleeping with all the partners they have slept with. HIV doesn't have a face, race, type, etc. It can be anyone.

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Indeed we take a lot for granted when it comes to matters of health. Away from this case,women still consider 'sex talk' in relationships a man thing. If the man does not bring it up, then it will never be discussed. As long as women do not learn to talk openly about sex with their partners, Zambia will continue to see an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Anonymous said...

Thank God she tested negative. Good article. Ignatius

Anonymous said...

I will always love your stories, very informative and educative . Be blessed my sister. am praying for this lady that the Lord will give her strength during this time of thinking sorry for herself and pain. Read Ps 125 for her. simon

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Ignatius, yes thank God, she tested negative. She has been given another chance.
Simon, will pass on the verse,very thoughtful of you. Thank you.

Boyd said...

Hi Meluse,

I have of late become a keeen follower of your blog. I must say you have the gift of using the pen. Your articles always touch my heart. Please keep up this good work. This particular story about Martha leaves me realising and believing more that God is indeed a god of a second chance. Martha will leave to tell this story and generations will learn from her past. I wish her well and Gods' love always!!

Boyd

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Boyd,thank you very much.

kyapa said...

Meluse , touching indeed ....i strongly feel our culture in Zambia has betrayed the women and sentenced them to silence....!! the traditional tells a woman that they should do what the man says always......in the line of sex it infact teaches the woman to be so submissive ......as in that their role is to pliz the opposite sex.
i feel we should then direct our sensitization to these women especially in rural areas were once they reach puberty these teachings are embedded in them. Thank God for the young lady that her life has been spared .....Surely and truly may we all women learn

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Kyapa, imagine this, girls in the rural areas who go through 'traditional teachings'upon reaching puberty are often times, if not always taught how to please a man in bed but never how to voice out their opinion on matters relating to sex. Coming back to the modern women,who have access to books, television etc, the topic of sex is still off-limits. How do we educate, even the modern woman that its OKAY to discuss issues of sex with their partners? Infact not only okay, but very important because their life depends on it.

Anonymous said...

Sex and love are very complex issues. You feel you love someone enough and put all your trust in that someone and forget about all that is around you believing that things are okay. They maybe such, but we should at least never take it for granted. It particularly hurts when you discover later on in the relationship after countless unprotected sexual encounters, that you are positive. Just how do you get to tell your partner in who all her/his trust is respected! Even tho you have not played around, the fact that you now are, is a turning point. Best is to have regular tests with your sexual partner...just in case one is/was a carrier and didn't show any positiveness in the beginning. Life continues in a better way when you know....

Anonymous said...

Sex and love are very complex issues. You feel you love someone enough and put all your trust in that someone and forget about all that is around you believing that things are okay. They maybe such, but we should at least never take it for granted. It particularly hurts when you discover later on in the relationship after countless unprotected sexual encounters, that you are positive. Just how do you get to tell your partner in who all her/his trust is respected! Even tho you have not played around, the fact that you now are, is a turning point. Best is to have regular tests with your sexual partner...just in case one is/was a carrier and didn't show any positiveness in the beginning. Life continues in a better way when you know....

Anonymous said...

It kind of just feel like Martha felt especially if testing for the first time. I remember testing for the first time and the counsellor asking me a question if i have had an protected sex and i said, 'yes'....the next question as to why i did that blew my mind and i felt so stupid that i had unprotected sex when protection was available. She kept me in suspense, and to tell you the truth i was sweating inside my skin. I thought of my mother, my future and education that would have been in shambles if i was declared positive, the shame that would accommpany it...and when finally told that i was negative, it was a sigh of relief, just like waking up from death. Iam glad i did take the test. sex is not worth taking a risk!

Anonymous said...

Meluse, i wonder why repoductive health is only taught in clinics and other counselling places. I suggest, churches, places of learning should all learn even at tender age. Imagine thinking its taboo talking about safe sex with your children and they get to learn from friends about unprotected sex, surely it doesnt pay. We have got to talk about it openly so that everyone can aquire this knowledge. My biggest problem is the NGO's who make all the noise but doing very little in terms of educating men and women, the so called modest in rural areas. there concetration has been on women when they are supposed to concetrate on men. We men. need the data than our counterparts in skirts.

Anonymous said...

Great article mama very insightful and very real things we go through every day..writing for change,well done

Emmanuel Mulenga said...

Meluse, Thanks for the story. Great piece of work it is. Am just moved that someone can choose and decide to ask questions later in this era of HIV /AIDS. Is it so much love or just some level of desparation?

Isabella Mukanda-Shamambo said...

Well, with the volatile Hiv/Aids situation in Sub-Saharan Africa and Zambia in particular, one would think that people are more careful with matters like this. It seems hard lessons are still being learned by some. In this age and time, I would think that every man and woman that falls in love would be careful to discuss issues of STIs before engaging in sexual activities even with the use of condoms. Lives are always at stake so why not care a little more? You cannot trust anyone enough not to think they are not carriers of an STI, even the best of us get tempted and have fallen into some mischief we did not intend to. Be wise, take care of yourself, no one else will.