In-depth: Love in the time of HIV/AIDS

KENYA: Florence Anam: "HIV hasn't stopped me from enjoying sex"

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
"I have an active sex life; for me sex has to be good or I'm not having it"
Nairobi, 19 November 2007 (PlusNews) - Florence Anam works for the Kenya Network of Women with AIDS. Diagnosed with HIV in 2005 at the age of 26, she spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about how living with HIV has affected her sex life.

"A friend of mine had walked into her boyfriend's room and found him with another chick, so she asked me to escort her to the VCT [voluntary counselling and testing] centre. When I was there I thought, why not check?

"At the end of the 45 minutes, we found out I was positive and she was negative.

"After I found out I was HIV-positive, of course, there was shock, pain, denial - all that. I did a test over and over again and it [the virus] was there with me, so I had to face it. At the time I had just hooked up with a male friend from college and we were getting cosy ... when I told him, I think he was shocked and so he stopped talking to me, which sort of freaked me out.

"Four months later this same man calls and says he wants to have sex. I was in shock, but I was like, 'Oh my goodness, I'm going to do this!'

"That was my first sexual act after the HIV test. From then on it opened my eyes that I can do this but, of course, we used protection and from then on it has been that way.

"People believe HIV is for promiscuous people, so if you have it then definitely you are [promiscuous]. If you dress up and look nice, and give a guy your number, it looks like you are setting out to infect others. That is the mentality people have, which is not the case.

"One guy I had coffee with later heard about my status and got so mad. He thought I should have told him ... he had all these ideas in his head [that] I was going to infect him, yet all we did was have coffee. It's not like every date results in two people going to bed.

"I choose when to tell a date about my status. I would tell a guy if I think I like him or find him handsome, or we have this chemistry thing going on. I have an active sex life; for me sex has to be good or I'm not having it.

"I definitely, at all times, make sure I have a condom with me. I think responsible sex does not mean you walk into a chemist when you think you are going to have sex; it means being responsible enough to have a condom with you always, because you never know when the craving will strike ... that's my little joke."

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