39th UPU International Letter-writing Competition for Young People
Author: Judith Jones from Barbados
1 March 2010
How are you? I"m writing to you feeling great remorse about my situation. I remember the sweet days last summer. We were so wild and free or should I say loose. We were careless and who was thinking about the future? However, we always got tested and God seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for us because the tests always came back negative.
Since we last spoke, I settled down and got a steady boyfriend but it seems like I have made a huge mistake and now my family and my boyfriend are going to pay the price of my reckless actions. I was raped and didn"t tell anyone, but last week my world stopped rotating because of that one devastating word "positive". I was feeling weak and was losing weight rapidly. You know since I"m turning 17 next week I thought I had caught a cold. I thought nothing much about it but my mom was worried so I went for my monthly check up. I visited my nutritionist and physiotherapist and they said they couldn"t find anything wrong with me but one of them mentioned that these could be signs of AIDS and encouraged me to have a test.
If I only knew how to take care of myself after rape! This happened to me sometime ago before I met my boyfriend. I didn"t tell anyone because I felt guilty and I felt people would judge me. I was at a house party near the beach and I had a little too much to drink. This guy began to get aggressive and even though I told him to stop, he kept on going. I ran on to the beach and cried all the way home. I was so upset. My mom asked me what the matter was and I lied and said "Nothing!" I was in a lot of denial. Eventually, I believed the lie myself and pretended the incident never happened.
I should have told my mother and gone to a doctor and asked him to give me medications to reduce my risk of getting HIV. I only found out about that later from a pamphlet that said: Go to a doctor as soon as you can and ask about anti-retroviral medicines that could reduce the risk of getting HIV. These medicines are called "post-exposure prophylaxis" or PEP. You must start taking the medicine as soon as possible. If more than 72 hours (3 days) have passed since you were raped, it is too late for these medicines to reduce the risk of getting HIV from rape. Boy was I naïve!
The doctor did inform me about the fact that receiving a positive test for HIV is psychologically traumatic so I went to pre-test counselling and I apparently I am emotionally stable. I was a little reluctant to have the test and what do you know, I have full blown AIDS. I prepared myself for this but it wasn"t as real as when I heard those words "You are positive." Reality is hard but trying to accept is the worst. Through my experience I am encouraging everyone I know and even strangers to talk about HIV/AIDS. Look at me, a victim of my self and society. I was never warned. I believed old wives" tales like "taking the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation" or "if you have anal sex you won"t catch anything and you are still a virgin." It"s sad to say in that in the twenty-first century the youth still believe in these things.
I told my boyfriend the news and he was in no way shocked. It turns out he knew for years he had HIV and he was being treated. It seems that, in truth, my boyfriend could have given me HIV and all this time he hid this condition from me and I was feeling guilty all along when I was the victim.
At first, I turned my back on God and people trying to help me and look what happened. The ugly truth has killed my heart and soul but God has illuminated my life with forgiveness. HIV/AIDS does not discriminate. Debbie, you have to give life a fair chance so talk about sex and AIDS tell your friends over there how they can catch it and that if they have any doubts, they should do as I did: accept God and the truth. Get an HIV/AIDS test.
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