Some things just go beautifully together
Peanut butter and jam sandwiches,
Chocolate chip cookies and milk,
Fish and chips,
Boys and girls. Or at least that’s what adolescent boys think and what adolescent girls talk about too: Love.
This love, unfortunately, comes disguised as unprotected sex, transactional sex and inter-generational sex.
As I write this, I am reminded of my very first “crush” in high school, how excited I used to get just to see him and have him pass me by like blowing wind. Perhaps you too can relate to this crazy, wild and beautiful teenage phase – most of us, if not all, have once wished to be noticed by that boy or girl at school regardless of our race, class and status.
There is another aspect of the teenager’s life that most of us are not even aware of, maybe because we have never experienced it or we aren’t paying enough attention. Statistics show that:
- More than two million adolescents aged 10 to 19 years are living with HIV, marking a 33 percent rise since 2001. (World Health Organization, 2013)
- Southern Africa is home to 1.2 million HIV-infected adolescents whose long-term health depends on their strict adherence to antiretroviral therapy. (UNICEF, 2013)
In communities where dating or relationships are not frankly discussed amidst young people, my experience has taught me there is a high chance that young people will engage in sexual activities to discover the fuss behind “If you fall pregnant, I am going to chase you out” that our mothers used to yell at us to scare us from even allowing boys to touch or kiss us.
Those words failed dismally. In fact, they served as a catalyst to our “first times”. And, as they say, curiosity killed a cat.
So what happens to HIV positive adolescents when they start developing sexual feelings or having sex? To gain more insight, I had a chat with Tshepo, a 22-year-old young man who was born with HIV.
Our conversation was centered on relationships and HIV. Although Tshepo is new to the dating scene, for him the most important aspect of a relationship is trust
I think we can all learn a lot from that. I mean, taking time to know someone way before the first kiss and then oh my! make it or break it moment.
Disclosing is essential, he said with confidence. In my mind, I asked myself, well, Tshepo, what about rejection? It was as if he could read my mind! He said: “One must never risk infecting a partner regardless of what the outcome might be afterwards”.
How many of us do that? This is a tough step that needs to be taken way before we go between the sheets. Since it is already difficult for most people to get tested, let’s switch on the light bulb of information and start making informed decisions. Go out…..Wait…..Give it time…..And give it time.
Zandi “Princess Zar” Mqwathi is a confident, innovative young leader and former radio personality with a drive to use her craft and experiences to educate and empower other young women.
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