Undetectable viral load: further talks with Sammy

Published 08, Mar, 2018
Author // Kimutai Kemboi,

From Kenya, Kimutai Kemboi on the many benefits of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Undetectable viral load: further talks with Sammy

I must say having a talk with Sammy (as I said, not his real name) was one of the most interesting discussion I have ever had with anyone. His questions were endless, as each response gave rise to more questions but I was happy coz everything he asked was very relevant.

Sammy: This is very interesting. So you mean an undetectable person can be in an intimate relationship with a negative person without posing a threat to him or her?

Kemboi: (looking at my cup of tea) Just a minute Sammy, my tea is getting cold and I have to get it warmed. (calling the waitress) Waitress, a minute please.

Waitress: Yes sir, how can I help you?

Kemboi: Miss Jane (as her name tag read. I also needed to sound sweet for my tea to be warmed), sorry to disturb. My tea is getting cold, would you mind warming it for me?

Waitress: No problem sir, it will be ready in a few seconds.

Kemboi: Alright, no problem. (Turning to Sammy) Sorry for that. Your argument is absolutely correct. The two persons with different HIV status can get married and have a family with negative kids as well as the negative partner maintaining his or her status. There are several ways that ensure this is possible. One instance is where the positive partner is undetectable. He or she poses no risk of passing on the HIV virus to the negative partner. This means that even in instances of unprotected sex, the negative partner is guaranteed safety. But there is a precaution to be taken: remember, viral load is subject to fluctuation and so to counter this a poz person should exercise absolute adherence to ARVs to avoid any rise in viral load to detectable levels).

"The ways I just explained to you came in place to set you free to love anyone, irrespective of your different status!"

Sammy: (Very curious). I heard you mention several ways yet you only expounded on one, what are these other 'several ways'?

Kemboi: (I had to laugh a little, the manner in which the questions streamed was amazing). Consistence and correct condom use is one of the safest ways, it not only keeps safe from contracting HIV but also other related sexual related infections as well as unplanned pregnancies. It is a multipurpose tool of protection!

Sammy: What do you mean by correct condom use?

Kemboi: This involves taking the precautionary measures when unsealing, wearing and removing. It also concerns checking on the expiry date or application of a lubricant. You can’t apply jelly but a special water based lube ,this prevents from tearing. All these instructions are available on the condom 'user manual' found inside condom packet.

Sammy: Suppose it accidentally bursts and I don't know whether the person is still undetectable?

Kemboi: (tapping his shoulder) Bro, you need not to worry; all is not gone! You need to see a doctor before 72 hours lapse from the time of exposure, and remember -- the earlier the better. The doctor will put you under Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for 28 days and this will rule out the possibility of contracting HIV. But before, you will be tested to ascertain that you are HIV-negative. Also on the same note of drugs, you can be put under Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) since you are at risk. This drug will be taken for as long as you are at risk and if you have to stop, do it with the doctor's directive; not deciding and stopping but deciding and consulting!

Sammy: Now you are mentioning condoms and drugs, are they not cost involving?

Kemboi: Worry not, they are free in public facilities and some selected private facilities and also at a considerable cost in leading chemists.

Sammy: Why should I love someone who is of different HIV status?

Kemboi: The ways I just explained to you came in place to set you free to love anyone, irrespective of your different status! This rules out failing to love or marrying someone. A notable remark is that it will change the perception people have about HIV and it will be a strong tool in fighting stigma.

Sammy: Thanks some much bro (shaking my hand), you have enlightened me; I was in total darkness.

Kemboi: You are most welcome.  Feel free some other time and we can share more. (I turned to my now hot tea)

About the Author

Kimutai Kemboi,

Kimutai Kemboi,

"I am Kimutai Kemboi, turning 26 on 9th of April 2017. Currently I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science at Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. 

"I’m HIV positive and under medication but doing well health wise since I have accepted to live positively, adhere to medication and practice a healthy lifestyle so that HIV does not overwhelm me. Besides my studies, I work as a volunteer to create HIV awareness and sensitivity in the community, both face to face and through social media platforms, especially Facebook.

"I opted to do this awareness-raising because I want to have an HIV-free society and save my generation from perishing."