On a faithful Monday morning, I was excited to head to school. I had my uniform neatly ironed with the spider web design, my white socks, and my brown sandals. I carried my blue school bag with all my notebooks neatly arranged in it and waved goodbye to my dad as I left the house.

Today was unlike every other Monday because I and a few other prefects had been selected to represent the school at an event in the biggest university in Lagos. I was super excited and as I thought of the event. I hurried off to school to prevent arriving late and been shouted at by my “headmistress” who heads the school.

“Elizabeth! My classmate, Sandra called out to me. The headmistress wants all of us attending the event in her office. We are about to leave, she said”.

I walked as fast as my legs could carry me to the headmistress office where we were given the rules and regulations. Apparently, there were certain things we could do or could not do at events outside of school. I wondered why that was so, anyway, I certainly was going to do as I was told.

And so the journey began. We got to the university and proceeded to the hall where the event was taking place upon directions given to us by the security men. There were so many students than I had ever seen. As I was star struck gazing and looking at the different students with so much concentration, my teacher who accompanied us called out to me.

“Elizabeth! What are you looking at? Come and register your name my friend, she shouted”.

Immediately, I came back to reality and walked fast to the registration table and wrote down my details. We were directed by a tall fair woman to the hall to have our seats and as we did that we gave a handshake to about four different persons standing all the way to the entrance of the hall and they were all saying welcome.

The event started and we had different sessions. A speaker then came up on stage and spoke to us about HIV/AIDs. She told us that HIV which means Human Immuno Deficiency Virus is a virus that breaks down the immune system and makes us vulnerable to contracting various diseases while AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This is a serious condition that occurs as a result of not treating HIV on time. The immune system becomes too weak to fight other diseases and infection.

She further went on to state that HIV can only be transmitted through bodily fluids that include: blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. She added that we can’t get HIV by us shaking someone that has HIV or eating with the person.

As she said all this, I was so scared that I started staring at everyone. I suddenly felt a sharp tap on my shoulders and I shook immediately with fear. “What’s wrong with you? Sandra asked”.

“I am okay, just really scared hearing all this. I don’t want to get HIV, I responded.” Before Sandra could respond, my attention was immediately caught by what I heard.

“Now students, don’t be scared, the speaker said”.

Although HIV has no cure, it can be managed by using anti-retroviral drugs. Also, it can be prevented by making sure you don’t share sharp objects or receive unscreened blood during a transfusion. Remember, that prevention is better than cure.

It is extremely important for you to go for your HIV test because that’s the only way you can know if one has HIV or not, she added. It is not written on the face so make sure you go for an HIV test.

Immediately, I felt loud applause coming from the large multitude of students in the hall. The speaker thanked us for the claps and asked us a question.

Do you all remember him? She pointed to the tall light-skinned man who looked like he just came from abroad. We all chorused Yes! Do you all remember giving him a handshake before entering the hall? We all chorused another Yes!

And before you knew it, the whole place was in an uproar. Everyone was running and looking for means out of the hall as quick as possible.

I was shaking and so scared that I suddenly burst into tears and I began screaming, I have HIV! I have HIV! I have HIV!

But you wonder what caused this uproar?

Not to worry, I will let you in on what caused it. Apparently, the man she referred to, was a person living with HIV and we were all scared thinking that we had contracted the disease.

It took a while though before calmness and order came back into the hall.

The speaker reminded us again that we can’t get HIV by shaking someone who has it.

That was one of the scariest days of my life. But oh well, I didn’t get HIV.

So that was how I almost contracted HIV!

It’s funny, right? #winks#

I would love to hear from you in the comment box what lesson you learned and if you have a similar story, feel free to share.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Written by Elizabeth Williams