Sixteen Years On and Still Counting ……

Today marks yet another milestone in my positive living with HIV. It’s sixteen years since I learned of my status.😊 I feel so encouraged looking back at the far I’ve come.

It never crossed my mind that I’d make it through. The future then looked so bleak.But look, here I am.

I’ll say it again,having HIV doesn’t mean it is the end of life. Just pick yourself up,accept it is what it is and move on.

Let’s just say, I’m grateful.😊

#16yearson
#Livingpositively
#HIVhasnothinonme

Fifteen Years on and Still Counting …..

In the history of my life, 15th May 2006 is a day never to be forgotten. A day where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. A day where literally, “things fell apart”. Its a day I’d like to forget, but then …..

A few days prior to testing HIV Positive, I held a meeting with myself. The agenda was first, go through the list of men I’d slept with. The million dollar question I needed to answer was, “with whom had I had unprotected sex”? It wasn’t easy doing a flash back of all those lustful scenes. Was it Moses at Batian Grand Hotel? Or was it that hook up date from Yahoo messenger who ended up sexing me bare at Maru B Hotel and lodging? Could it be Musyoka of Mwiki? Whom I had met via the Gaydar website. What about Job, the one who violently robbed me off my virginity at a down town River road lodging in Nairobi? Was it on the eve of Christmas day at that dudes house in Nairobi West who’d been introduced to me the previous day by Musyoka? Who was to blame for my predicament?


I should have listened to the counsel of my pastor, this wouldn’t be the case , I thought. He had warned me about engaging in homosexuality a few weeks back after opening up to him on “my struggle” with that sin. His words rang loudly in my mind, “Carl, if you don’t stop having sex with other men, you’ll get HIV”. Was this a prophesy coming to pass ? I regretted deeply for being a disobedient believer. Was this the wages for my sinful homosexual ways?

Secondly, on the agenda was the question of “what will I do if the result comes back Positive”?

_________________________________________________________

I was confident that the result would turn out negative. I prayed earnestly to God that the result comes back negative . I made a vow that I’d stop sleeping with men if it turned out negative. Besides based on my “observation” out of my list, only three men I’d had unprotected sex with. Nevertheless, they all seemed to be healthy unlike the frail and emaciated men on HIV campaign ads. However, there was this one scene that I didn’t seem to remember so well about to date. All I recall is waking up late in the morning with a sour nunu. I left hurriedly for work and my host behaved strangely. Then came the, “Carl, you’re HIV Positive” result. I was shook. I was shattered. I was ashamed. Finally, my sins had caught up with me.

I remember crying for the rest of the day. I was inconsolable. The pain was so raw and real. It went on for a few days. The only thing that got me through that week was prayers and regular check ins by people I’d confided in after the diagnosis. To me, this was the end. But somehow I pulled through.

_________________________________________________________

This was exactly fifteen years ago today.

Looking back on my HIV Positive living life this long, I wouldn’t say it has been all that easy. I’ve had good and bad days. I’ve had moments that made life feel to be meaningless. But still…..here I am. 😊

On a date like today, fifteen years ago, I made a conscious decision to live positively with HIV.

#15yearson
#Livingpositively
#HIVhasnothinonme

Fourteen Years on and Still Counting …

I thought contracting HIV at the age of twenty two was a death sentence. I never saw myself getting to live up to thirty years and beyond. But look,here I am today. 😊 Many people especially if you’re diagnosed when you’re young, think that this is the end of life. They quickly loose hope. They put there goals and dreams on hold because they seem unachievable. You think to yourself, “what’s the point yet I’m going to die of HIV”. I felt that way for a very long time. Until when it dawned on me, being HIV Positive was not the end of my life. That’s when I began living.

However, it took having a positive mindset for me to have come this far. I’ve had to deliberately choose to live life looking at the bright side of it. That’s why, I have a “one day at a time mantra”. I don’t carry my yesterday’s baggage to today. Neither do I worry so much about tomorrow. I live in the moment. That’s what has kept me going these last fourteen years living with HIV.

This is my encouragement message to those who’ve tested HIV Positive especially to the younglings in their teens and twenties. It is not the end of your life. You can do all that you wanted to do with your life. You can also be all that you’ve ever wanted to be in this life. All you just need is take your meds, eat well, avoid stress, be happy, be you,do you. Don’t let HIV stop you. You are the only one who can stop yourself.

Keep your dream alive!

#14yearsonandcounting
#Hivgotnothinonme
#Arvswork

Coronavirus: The Show Stopper!

I was just going about my daily business of eking a living at the beginning of March this year. Well the usual routine of waking up early to beat the usually hectic Nairobi traffic and be in the office on time. Go about chasing clients to secure orders for our products. Unbeknown to me and many others,something was happening that would bring “change” to the “normal” that I was used to. At first, the Corona Virus spread was not going to get to me or my fellow Countrymen anytime soon so I thought. For me it was just a “passing cloud” that wouldn’t affect my way of life. I was so wrong. I remember going out partying with some of my friends and making fun of Corona Virus. The government had asked us the citizens to exercise “Social distance” to curb the spread. We were like,” sisi hapana tambua Corona Virus” as we danced the night away. The following week, a curfew was announced. There would be no movement past seven o’clock in the evening. All bars and pubs were shut down so there was no more partying. The public transport providers were asked to reduce the number of passengers they ferried. Suddenly,things were changing. I was like, “damn shit just got real”. The worst was yet to come when my employer asked to stay home. I was like the heck, what is going on here. Corona virus did “stop the show” all around me. Well, I thought it was just going to take a few days and we would be back to the usual hustle and bustle. But alas,it is taking longer than I anticipated.Corona Virus has affected each and everyone of us in unfathomable depths. We are not so sure how going forward life is going to be. We are a worried lot of humans.

Personally, I am anxious about how the future will be. “Rona” did not come to play. It has been a minute since I visited with my relatives,siblings and friends. This is killing me. Phone and video calls are not enough. I am craving for what I call “Ministry of Presence”. I want to high five with my friends as we tell stories. I want to hug my nephews … play with them,but damn Rona has made me get stuck in this City. And it is killing me softly. One thing this pandemic has taught me is, never take things for granted. My current job involves a lot of movement sourcing for new clientele. This is how I make money. The mileage covered and commission is paid on how much income you generate. I was doing fairly well given it is a new job. But Rona wouldn’t let me traverse the various parts of this City in execution of my duties. I am stuck indefinitely . The ability to move from one place to the other should not be taken lightly. Yet another lesson learned as a result of this pandemic. I know of so many businesses and people who have been affected by this inability to move about.

As a person living positively with HIV, you might be wondering how I am coping with all this. Well, it is not easy. The stress levels are on a high and I am trying as much as I can to stay calm. You see, I have take to extra care as I go about my daily activities. According to the health experts, people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. Hence the reason why we have to be vigilant. I have had to come up with various ways and activities to stay sane like practicing meditation. I am also in touch with my friends and family on a regular basis. Talking is therapy. Here are a few to do things for PLWHIV:

  • Try to stock-up on your antiretroviral treatment, so you have enough for at least 30 days, ideally for three months.
  • Make sure you know how to get in touch with your health care facility and that you have a plan in place if you feel unwell and need to stay at home.
  • Make sure you are eating well, exercising as best you can (even at home), and looking after your mental health.

My prayer is that this “Pandemic” will end soon so that we can go back to our normal lives.

As it were right now,everything is abnormal!

Is Masturbating Wrong?

Andy, is a 34 year old, single man, a marketing manager of a multinational organization with offices here in Nairobi. He identifies as gay but not openly. Though his way of dressing and general mannerisms has caused him to be a subject of discussion in many quarters. But he’s less bothered by all that. His dilemma, he’s addicted to porn and masturbation.

” Carl, I’m a porn addict. There’s not a single day that passes without watching some and eventually jerk off”, so he confessed to me.

“You see, being gay has been such a struggle for me. I was and have always been attracted to men since I was young especially the twinks. They drive me crazy. But I can’t seem to find just one for keeps”, he lamented.

” Every time I find someone, they end up leaving. And  I think I know the reason why,” he said as I listened keenly to each word he spoke.

” Before I have sex with anyone, I have to watch porn. Either alone before I meet this person or together. Then I’m able to have sex with them. But even then, after that I’ll still masturbate”.

“What do you think is my problem? “

Question: What do you think is Andy’s problem? How can he deal with it?

Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with masturbation. However, it becomes a problem if it is compulsive.

If you are struggling to stop masturbating. Here are a few tips to help you overcome.

📌 Avoid Pornography

Exposure to pornography may trigger the desire to masturbate.If you want to stop masturbating avoid pornographic movies, images, and websites. If a person can place a barrier between themselves and pornography, it can help them break the habit.

📌 Stay Active

It can be helpful for a person to find ways to occupy their time that does not trigger the desire to masturbate.Finding outlets for energy release can replace the time spent masturbating. People can consider taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill, such as learning a musical instrument or trying a new sport.Developing new goals can help a person refocus their energy and find excitement and fulfillment in other things.It may also be helpful to determine when the urge to masturbate is highest and plan other activities for that time.

📌 Spend more time with others

Some people may masturbate because they feel lonely or have nothing else to fill their time with.Spending less time alone reduces the opportunities to masturbate. Spending time with others will not only keep a person occupied, but it might also redirect their focus.There are several ways to decrease solitude. People can meet up with friends or family, take a class, or join a gym to stay socially engaged with others.

📌 Exercise

Exercise is an effective way to both lower tension and positively focus energy.Activities such as running, swimming, and weight lifting can strengthen the body and release endorphins that promote feelings of well-being.Feeling happier and more relaxed may reduce the urge to masturbate as frequently.

📌 Find a support group

Joining a support group can help decrease feelings of guilt and shame associated with compulsive masturbation.Compulsive masturbation might be due to various reasons. For example, it may be due to:untreated mental health conditions,relationship issues,restrictive views on sexuality,poor sexual communication or conflict resolution skills,cultural differences in sexual expression or cultural and religious conflicts.However, having support from a trusted group of people may be helpful for some people to quell the habit. A support group can give them the space they need to express concerns and coping mechanisms.

📌 Seek professional help

When masturbation is negatively affecting a person’s life, it may be helpful to seek advice from a mental health professional who specializes in human sexuality.

It is possible that additional issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, are the underlying problem. Talking with a therapist or psychologist is useful to work through negative feelings and learn behavior modification strategies to stop masturbating.

Homosexual Dating and Relationships!

The reason why most Kenyan ( I don’t know about the rest of the world) gay men are still single especially the so called “tops” is because they don’t have “pick up lines”. Hawana mistari ….😂😂😂 You might be wondering …. What’s the importance of pick up lines or sweet nothings? They help you know the other person better. It is a sign of a genuine desire to connect with the other person.

For real ….. How do you tell someone you’re interested in “mazuri”? Or …. “Unaishi peke yako?” Wtf 🙄🙄🙄

Seriously,I mean what kind of a response do you expect. People need to be creative in their approach.

Others be like …. “nakudai” ….. Smh!

Then if you choose to go along with the cliche and boring lines and eventually meet for a date, it becomes like an interrogation or interview session. Really guys?

If you go on further and eventually have sex, he’s there asking you “who’s your daddy” during sexing.A clear sign he’s a certified Pornhub addict.

Wengine wakati wapekejeng wanakuuliza …. “unaskiaje?” Kwani what the fuck am I supposed to feel. Arrrgh …. 😠 Please let me moan in peace the way I want.

In summary,all I’m advocating for,if we are to experience thriving happy gay relationships,there’s a need to communicate effectively with the other person. We need to rise up above the glorification of sex and objectification of individuals as sex symbols.

There’s more to this life than just sex.

Ni hayo tu kwa sasa!

 

Job Loss – Part 2

Job LossThis is the fourth time I’m jobless (sigh). And it is as bad as the first time when I lost my very first job nine years ago.  That job meant everything to me at that particular time. I mean everything! That loss really destabilized my life to date. I have never recovered. I have blogged about it here. There is nothing as terrible as when you’re used to doing your own stuff minding your own business,living  your own life, then suddenly you become a “dependent” on other people. There’s something that happens to you in case you are rendered redundant. You loose control of your life. This very first job had given me hope. I had big dreams. I had a sense of purpose by virtue of this job. But all those dreams and aspirations were shattered when I was given a choice to either “resign or be fired”. That’s to tell you,it was not a willful resignation. It was hard but then I had to do what I had to do. Then came the job search after that.

It took exactly another three years to get a job. I’d hoped that it would be easy to find employment given my previous work experience but alas,that was not to be the case. In those three years I suffered. I literally lived from hand to mouth. I was accommodated by relatives and friends. It was the most toughest and hardest time of my life.This new job also looked “promising” . I began to dream and set goals again. Only for the contract to be terminated a year down the line. Talk of devastation.  I was back to the drawing board. Fortunately,three months down I got another job. This was nothing short of a miracle. The job itself was so demanding,so tiresome but I was determined to make the best out of it regardless of the meager pay. So I endured. After four years of working,I woke up one morning and called it quits. The company was experiencing some turbulent times and the environment was increasingly becoming toxic. My colleagues began quitting one after the other due to too much pressure. It was becoming difficult with each passing day. No matter how much I tried to endure,because I needed the money, I just couldn’t keep up anymore.

Luckily,thereafter I got another job which took me out of the City. It was supposed to be an annual renewable job contract. But as soon as it had ended some time in May this year, that never happened. That’s why I am here again.

There’s nothing as terrible as when you don’t have rent money, food money and money for other necessities. People especially “friends” don’t seem to understand how you can no longer hang out with them. They don’t understand why you no longer call them. As if that’s not enough, when you ask someone to help you out financially “with something small” to keep you going,they don’t seem to get it. So, what do you do,you become resigned to your own fate.

I don’t know why I had to write about this. But who knows what might come out of it.

Let me put it plainly, I need a job.

Thank you!

The Thief Called HIV!

Le CodeMonday 15th, 2006 … A day that I wish never was.I saw my world fall apart on this particular day. I wished the 🌍 earth would open up and swallow me.Every step, every breath…. Was a reminder that from this moment on, I will never be the same again.I wept bitter hot tears. I just couldn’t comprehend how all this happened. Why did it have to be me?”So, what next? “, I pondered while laying on my bed.Was this the end?The following day when I woke up, I knew it was the beginning of a unseen phase of my life. Little did I know it would take weeks and months to accept my “new reality”.A reality of lonely living, rejection, stigma, melt downs and secrecy.

Monday 15th May , 2006 … A day I shall never forget for as long as I am alive. A day where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. A day where literally, “things fell apart”. After the HIV test result came back Positive, it was time to pick up the broken pieces of my life. A journey that has been so insurmountable. So treacherous. Quite a number of times I’ve wanted to give up.It was so hard coming to terms with the fact that I’m HIV Positive.  Why me?  I  mean I had only engaged sexually with five people only. Was this “my wages” for my “sinful ways”?

“Lord forgive and heal me”, so I prayed for a while every single day.

“I promise to serve and honor you”, I continued.

I took time to actually pray and fast, pleading with God to heal me of HIV.

Well,  I never got healed miraculously and divinely.  My healing came through other ways.  Noteworthy, my health had deteriorated so badly ,hata sikuwa najua.  Had I not began on HAART I wouldn’t be here.  I remember my CD4 count back then was 74 copies.  I was so much emaciated. It was just a matter of time and I’d have been dead.

Thankfully, with the help of my support team I began treatment. Its been tough all along but even then “I keep pushing”.

The “0ne day at a time” mantra has kept me going for all this while.

Here I am, thirteen years later.  Still soldiering on.

Its not over, till its over!  😊

It is amazing what one deadly bug can do to you. It crashes your human self.

#Thirteenyears
#Positiveliving
#Hivgotnothinonme
#Gratefulforlife

The “Pain of being Gay” in Kenya!

imagesMr.T is a middle aged Kenyan man, a teacher,a great music lover. Actually he is an upcoming musician, very lovely soul to hang around. But he is a disappointed and frustrated “not anymore gay man”. Here is my engagement with him on “the pain of identifying as a homosexual in Kenya today”. ” Being gay promised me happiness.  Being gay promised me love. Being gay promised me joy. Being gay promised me a whole load of things”, Mr.T said to me over a cuppatea at Java, Westlands square, Nairobi.

Him: What do you have to show for being gay?
Me: (Trying to think hard before muttering something sensible).
Him: Exactly my point.  Nothing.  No boyfriend.  No children.  No money.
Me: But I….
Him: But what Jamal ? Let’s be honest.  Show me at least just one thing.
Me:(Tongue tied with no response).

Drop silence fills the atmosphere.

He then continued, ” I never got any of that. What did I get instead?  Pain, heart break, unhappiness,sadness,rejection”.

His parting shot, being gay is useless. It is worthless. It is hard. It is terrible.I Jamal just sat there listening to Mr.T rant on how being gay is such a “bad thing” after having lived his life for a while as a gay man.At the moment, he’s working out his life on not being “gay”. How? The usual road most “ex – gay” men travel on of “finding God and purpose”.

Mr. T thinks and  admits that being gay is ungodly, evil and not worth it.

This conversation really got me thinking hard.  I think he had a valid point.

To be sincere, personally  I don’t have anything to show for being gay apart from the HIV that lives within my blood system. 😂😂😂  A disease I contracted out of “naivety and ignorance”. That’s my honest truth by the way.

HIV changed “my being gay” altogether.  It was life altering.  Sometimes, I tend to think if I didn’t have HIV my life wouldn’t be like this.

In fact, my life is very complicated right now.

On the other hand,Mr. T is not alone on this. There are so many Kenyan gay men who share in his sentiments.

As for me,there’s too much pressure from within and without, to showcase what I’ve gained for identifying as a Kenyan gay man.

Thirteen Years on and Still Counting …

number 13.png

Every 15th of May for the last eight years,I have always documented what has happened in the previous year whilst living positively with HIV. More or less like an anniversary remembrance of the day my life took a different turn by virtue of being HIV Positive. However,this year I did not make any post. Why? I have been going through a very rough patch in my life lately. I feel like giving up. I did not have any energy left in me to do anything. I was depressed. For a moment I contemplated on committing suicide. To me this was the end of the road.This past year has been very rough for me. I honestly do not have words to describe what I have been going through. It has been very tough. To an extent that I have been forgetting to take my medicines.

To be honest, I am tired.

I am tired physically.

I am tired emotionally.

I am tired mentally.

The last twelve months have been unnerving,unsettling.. I do not know how I made it this far. One thing is for sure, I am still on this journey  thirteen years later.

Just to answer a concerned reader on living with HIV.

Question: What is the greatest challenge one has to face once you have tested HIV Positive?

Answer: Self stigma is the number one challenge that one has to deal with on a day to day basis. Once you have overcome that you can be sure,there is nothing that you cannot defeat in as far as managing HIV is concerned.

Self Stigma: is the biased, negative judgment that we impose on ourselves.Or yet still,it is when you believe you are weak or damaged because of an illness.

It is one one of the major reasons why people are unable to pursue medical care even though HIV is manageable. To them the argument is,”why try” or “why seek treatment” when am already damaged.