Random Thoughts on STDs

It’s been about two weeks since I wrote anything for this blog, and I realise that two weeks is a really long time. My excuse is that I’ve been very busy handling some essentials, but someone once told me that if you value something or someone, you would always make out time for that thing or person. So, I’m going to force myself to sit and pen a few words, and hope those words manage to stay on course. 

In the last nine months, I’ve only been to a barbing salon four times, despite having my hair cut for more than four times, the reason being an insane unwillingness to spend between £11-17 to cut my hair—ordinary hair. Now, before anyone calls me “cheap”, I think this is something that not a few Nigerians in the UK struggle with. It’s something in the mind where you unconsciously compare the cost of doing something over here with the cost back home, factoring in the exchange rate. Let’s say that back in Nigeria, as a non-fashionista, I could get my hair cut for about ₦200-300, and I wrongly wonder why I should spend the equivalent of over ₦4,000 to take hair off my head. Anyway, that’s just me being illogical.

Leaving my illogicality behind, let me point out one difference I have seen in going to British salons. The four times I have used a barbing salon, I have gone with my own clipper, but the total number of times my clipper has been used by a barber amounts to a tidy zero. Each time, my clipper gets ignored, so on my last visit to a barbing salon, I asked this barber why he prefers to use his own clippers, and he joking replied, “You’re crazy man! You’re the first person coming here with a clipper”.

To be fair, the British barbers tend to use at least three different clipper models (sizes) on a single person’s hair, but I think back at Nigeria and the prevalent HIV/AIDS campaign against sharing hair clippers and wonder why it’s different in England. Whereas an average Nigerian would repeatedly hear messages advising him (or her!) to buy a personal clipper, the Brit doesn’t hear such messages. This does not in any way mean HIV isn’t an issue in the UK, as it even has a dedicated website (www.test.hiv) that offers to ship free testing kits to residents to check their HIV status. So although, the Brits are also addressing the spread of HIV, sharing hair clippers is not a serious point that they make noise about.

In trying to theorise possible reasons, the best I can conjure is that the hair cutting style in the UK has been deemed very low risk regarding HIV transmission. It is not common to see a Brit with “skin cut” or any hairstyle where the clipper blade gets to enjoy close communion with the scalp, so they may feel there is very low probability of getting an injury that could move the unwanted virus. Another possible explanation could be that getting HIV is no longer the death sentence it was in the past, especially, in a developed country; so, like some Nigerians would say, “Kini big deal?”

The problem I have with the second hypothesis is that it can trigger nonchalance that could enhance the spread of STDs. A recent WHO report points out that some strains of gonorrhoea are becoming resistant to existing drugs. While there are several factors responsible for this, transmission is being boosted by indulgence in unsafe sex. For someone who feels modern healthcare is sufficient to handle STDs and prefers direct skin fellowship, there is hardly any incentive to use a “limiting” condom. The cited report also points to oral sex contributing to the rise in resistant gonorrhoea. This may highlight a rise in nonchalance, and if something as “simple as gonorrhoea” should become resistant and gain transmission rates, what is to stop HIV from benefiting from the largesse?

You have come to the end of this composition. It appears my random thoughts managed to find a topic and stay on course. Hallelujah! There are a lot of thoughts that have crossed my mind in the past few weeks, but while the spirit is willing to blog, the weak flesh wants to face my master’s thesis. Let me quickly post this article and return to the world of journals, books and citations.

Image Credit: std-gov.org

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