Carrying the burden of HIV, though containable with ARV’s contributes to feeling low and depressed. Throw in the pandemic, and you have a cocktail of disaster
By Mertha Mo Nyamande
As if life was not already hard enough for us? Having HIV is a tough cell to bare, knowing that life is only possible with being reliant on tablets: like a suspended sentence meaning just a default could be catastrophic.
Imagine how much that weighs on our minds, our mental health and the impact on our social circles and especially those that rely on us?
Then add COVID-19 and its limitations on the habits that we had become accustomed to, the pharmaceuticals that produce our livelihoods.
What are the implications?
HIV/AIDS is a deficiency of the human immunity caused by an acquired virus. As such, Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is similarly acquired, although the ways in which we acquire these viruses differ.
HIV AIDS is acquired through an exchange of affected bodily fluids, while COVID-19 remains unclear whether the new strains are now airborne, but we know that the virus can survive outside its host, unlike other viruses.
With forecasts of the 3rd wave coming with winter, this causes great fear and uncertainty in most people who have seen many unexplained deaths, it triggers Health Anxiety that is linked with the fear of dying due to exposure to an illness disease or virus.
We are likely to have an increase in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, especially around shacking/washing of hands and touching of faces.
The need to wash hands and not being able to touch ones’ face could have also impacted one’s internal ways of coping with ways to reassure self.
Mental health remains a heavy subject in most circles due to its elusive nature and the perception people has of it, the stigma that makes one an outcast: How could you fail to control your own emotions or your own life?
Combine this with the stigma of HIV which initially suggested infidelity or promiscuity, perhaps perpetuated further down the generations.
The dilemma of these pandemics is that while treatable, they remain misunderstood and carry high negative connotations.
Why is that so, one may wonder?
Mental health causes one to become more vulnerable to HIV due to the helplessness that we associate with depression.
Depression compromises one’s decision-making, especially with regards to safety and sex, with the severe end of depression making others resign to life and take more reckless risks with a suicidal-type tendency as they may feel it is hopeless anyways.
Conversely, carrying the burden of HIV, though containable with ARV’s contributes to feeling low and depressed, alongside the anxieties of what if others know, and how harshly they may judge taking into consideration one’s lifestyle and perhaps status in the communities.
COVID-19 has made these already difficult issues more difficult to manage with the limitations on access to services that may have encouraged compliance, availability of quality drugs as priority may have been channelled to tackling the new pandemic.
The socialisations that may have provided some relief and distraction from the burden on one’s shoulders was also affected, leaving people struggling more and more, leading to Gender-Based Violence.
The testing for HIV has not been easy and carried a lot of anxieties, and testing for COVID-19 is also quite uncomfortable for most people who have undergone the process.
Furthermore, a lot of people have raised Anxieties/fears of taking the vaccine due to conflicting scaremongery that has been peddled by all media platforms.
As all new things /change comes with resistance but with time, people will get accustomed to the new normal, just like all pandemics prior to the current one.
“Seek help to manage the thinking that you carry to either pandemic, so you can navigate life with much ease. Mental health services and practitioners are available to provide the much-needed understanding to these fundamental issues, for There is No health without Mental Health.”
Psychotherapist Mertha Mo Nyamande @ www.i-wellbeing.weebly.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
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