One of the hospitals I often refer to, was located beside a brothel.In my sheltered upbringing, I had never set eyes on a prostitute. I was new in town, yet to move into my apartment, and still sleeping in the doctors’ call room. The 1st evening, I followed a colleague to be shown the sights. He promised to introduce me to his favourite delicacy, “Starch and Banga soup”, so I was excited. He failed to warn me of the commercial sex workers next door.
To my astonishment, standing by the road, were girls, scantily clad, chewing gum loudly, and making cat calls. I wondered why they were dressed like that in cold weather, he hurried on. Some were trying to tug at his clothes, making obscene remarks, batting their eyelids, blowing kisses, and gyrating their hips! It was appalling! I dared to ask the question on my mind when we got to the eatery and he laughed.
“That’s what we see here O! If I had not let you walk behind me, they would have attacked you”, he replied.
Those ladies became a normal part of my life in that town. One day, they even tried to grab me. Probably, they lacked patronage and decided to settle for skinny little me! I ran like Usain Bolt! They often presented with STDs, stab injuries from their fights and so on. They never had money to pay. Refuse to treat them at your own peril. They were fond of clustering at the fence when we had emergencies, shouting at us from there.
“Wicked people! Give him oxygen! These people like waiting for money! If you don’t treat that man, I’ll set this place ablaze!”
We had a relationship of mutual respect. Stay out of my business, I’ll stay out of yours!
One day, a girl came to my office. She was there for a follow up as a colleague had previously seen her and made a diagnosis. She was overweight,dark, swarthy, hardened, with tattoos all over her body. Whatever she was wearing was stretched to its limits and revealing. She kept tapping a foot nervously. I read in her folder that a pre-test HIV counselling had been done.
“Your HIV test is positive”, I informed her, after some preparation.
“What! It’s not my portion!”, she exclaimed. I was surprised but, she had more.
“Doc, what did you say?”
I repeated myself.
“No! It cannot be!”
My mouth hung open. The doctor who 1st saw her diagnosed the HIV based on her symptoms and sent her for a test. I wondered where she got her confidence from.
“What do you mean? Do you want to repeat the test?”, I asked carefully. (Remember that they turn violent easily).
“What I’m telling you is that it is not real. This thing is spiritual HIV!”
“Which one is spiritual HIV?”
“You will not understand! Give me that result. I will give it to my pastor and he will cancel it”
I was flabbergasted! Prostitutes have pastors too!
“This is not ordinary. They want to try me. I’m not moved. Give me the paper. This one is spiritual HIV. Drugs don’t affect it”, she went on.
I tried to get in a word about Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), confirmatory tests, protection, etc. She was not interested. She just kept tapping her foot and muttering to herself.
“Doc, are you done?”, she asked finally. “I’ve told you this one is beyond you. Don’t worry. My pastor will cancel it and I will come back to show you the result”
With that, she stormed out. That was my 1st encounter with spiritual HIV and that was about 6 years ago. Note that there was so much advocacy,awareness and enlightenment going on. Some charlatans decided to fleece people by creating ‘Spiritual HIV’. What are the problems with it?
1.They will refuse to use protection. Since it is spiritual, they can go on to infect hapless people.
2. They will refuse to take ARVs. Though not curative, these drugs reduce the viral load, increasing your life span and your infectivity to others.
3. They will advice others not to seek medical help. If a friend wants to be tested or treated, they will say No, it is spiritual.
Can God heal HIV $ AIDS? Yes, I absolutely believe! A prerequisite for healing is that you have to admit you have a problem. Denial is not faith. Let’s not even talk about a pastor who encourages prostitution, I choose to doubt it.
I wrote this post because I heard a campaign on the radio advising people that HIV is not spiritual.That made me realise the battle is still on. We must debunk this idea so people do not continue to spread the disease believing they are healed. A genuine man of God will send you back to repeat the test. The fake one will tell you not to try it. You see, it is spiritual, you can’t trust the hospital. This is witchcraft!
Today, I need your voice. Join the fight. Let no one debase the name of our God. He is a healer! He is not afraid of lab tests. Jesus sent those he healed to the priests to verify their healing. Do not ignore anyone you hear claiming otherwise. Speak up. Why? So he or she does not spread the infection. Remember we cannot avoid them. They may sleep with the brother of a friend who then contacts it when sharing his or her brother’s razor (you trust your siblings, right?). No man is an Island.
Let us spread the truth, not the virus.