Every Thursday at the OPD, is a HIV/AIDS clinic so anyone that needs to get a routine check-up, more medication, counseling etc usually come on this day. So anyone that is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS gets a patient folder that looks similar to the regular ones but it is bigger and they get this big green booklet in it (that book is used to keep track of their disease). I was in-charge of opening up lab orders and marking in the booklet, and it was a really weird experience to open up my first lab order and see the words, POSITIVE, red, all caps ink. It changes their life forever and there were about 40 patients coming to get a check-up another 5-10 that were just getting diagnosed. It was really overwhelming at times.
For the patients that were getting routine check-ups, the doctor would ask them a series of questions and look for other signs and one questions that asked “are you sexually active? Yes or no,” if they say yes, we move on to sub-questions that asked “are you letting your partner know you are infected? Yes or no,” and about 15 said yes to being sexually active and no to letting their partner know because they are too embarrassed. I was so mad and frustrated, I mean I’m sure it’s the same problem in the rest of the world, but in a Africa were so maybe individuals are infected it is almost impossible to stop. I was glad I got to be a part of this clinic, but the stigma associated with this disease really prevents people from being open with their sexual partners and it really made me look at my own life and realize how truly lucky I am.