A Nigerian fashion designer, Labi Rhodes, has taken to Twitter to share his survival story five years after he was diagnosed with HIV.
Labi, who is an openly-gay man, said he started taking his medication two months after his diagnosis and became undetectable within a year.
Undetectable viral load is where antiretroviral treatment (ART) has reduced HIV to such small quantities that it can no longer be detected by standard blood tests. People with HIV undetectable viral load can’t pass HIV on through sex. However, being undetectable does not mean the HIV is cured.
According to him, people ghosted on him, discriminated and blackmailed him when they found out about his status. However, he noted that has also received massive love and support from good friends and family.
“Today 5 years ago, I received my HIV diagnosis. From my sister! Technically everyone in my immediate family knew before I did. I was told my brother almost fainted when he was told. I was calm in the midst of it all. Started my ARVs 2months after.”
“And in less than a year, I became undetectable. Over the course of five years, I’ve had a range of experiences. There were people who loved me no matter what and for that, I’m grateful. There were people I had to educate and I’m thankful that they learnt one or two things.
“There were some that just didn’t get the gist. Some would ghost immediately I told them. Some would come with crazy excuses. Some tried to shame/blackmail me..lol. In all, I’m thankful for life. For growth. For friends. For support systems
“For the anonymous people I would rant to online. I hope that in the next 5 years, alot more people would become more aware about Undetectable = Untransmitrable. I hope that I wouldn’t have to care about discrimination to hide my status. I hope that things get better”
“So if you’re newly diagnosed, I just want to say this is not the end. Things may seem murky at the beginning. But #itgetsbetter. You can be #undetectable too. Just get on your meds and never forget to pop that daily pill.Xoxo.”
See his tweet below,
Today 5 years ago, I received my HIV diagnosis. From my sister!
Technically everyone in my immediate family knew before I did.
I was told my brother almost fainted when he was told.
I was calm in the midst of it all. Started my ARVs 2months after
— Modiste (@labi_rhodes) April 16, 2021