Young sex & HIV risk Living with AIDS # 217

KYLE PAFFRET: I’€™m Kyle Paffret, from Vereeniging, south of Johannesburg. I’€™m 16. I understand that it’€™s (HIV) a big problem and if we don’€™t address it a lot of people are going to die’€¦ There is a home close to where I live and there, I’€™ve heard of babies dying of AIDS related illnesses. And it’€™s a very emotional case.

KHOPOTSO: Is it something that you talk about at home ‘€“ HIV and AIDS and issues around safe sex?

KYLE PAFFRET: Hey, it is quite uncomfortable to talk about it’€¦ It’€™s a sensitive story to talk about.

KHOPOTSO: Have you got a girlfriend?

KYLE PAFFRET: Me? No, I don’€™t have a girlfriend’€¦ I think you should only have sex when you’€™re married because that way you know who you’€™re having sex with and you know that they aren’€™t HIV-positive and that way you protect yourself against AIDS’€¦ Yes, that’€™s exactly what I’€™ve decided to do personally’€¦ probably because I’€™m scared. That’€™s what inspired it. I’€™m scared, so I’€™m very responsible about what I do and I protect myself against it.

KHOPOTSO: As in this report, the loveLife survey revealed that the vast majority of young people, some 94%, said they knew how to avoid HIV infection.      

LUNGA: My name is Lunga. I’€™m 19 years old. I go to Wits Tech’€¦ If I ain’€™t got a condom in my house, you’€™re ain’€™t coming over if you’€™re intending to get laid’€¦ No condom no sex’€¦

KHOPOTSO: What if you’€™ve known somebody for a long time?

LUNGA: Look, we all have secrets, bra. I could know you my whole life and there’€™s still gonna be at least six or seven very important things in my life that you don’€™t know. And if somebody’€™s got an STD or they’€™re HIV-positive, they’€™re not going to tell you because they have the right to keep it to themselves. It might endanger the other person, but it’€™s that person’€™s right’€¦ You can’€™t take chances. No matter how long you’€™ve known somebody. Until you both go and get tested… Like that guy said, I’€™m scared.

KHOPOTSO: Have you tested for HIV?

LUNGA: Nah, nah’€¦ It’€™s one of those things that I’€™d like to know ‘€˜cos I don’€™t. So, I can’€™t say I’€™m negative or positive. Hopefully, I’€™m negative. Ja, I’€™d like to know. I’€™m going to   find out.

KHOPOTSO: Young women are bearing the brunt of the epidemic with one in four between the ages of 20 and 24 testing positive compared with one in 14 men of the same age.

KIM: I’€™m 19 years old. My name is Kim. I go to Design School in Rosebank. I study Interior Designing. I live in Randburg, Cresta. I’€™m not at risk at all because I don’€™t have sex and stuff. I abstain from that because I’€™m waiting for marriage. I don’€™t believe in sex before marriage. I had a boyfriend. We broke up. He was cheating on me too many times. So, I decided that no, you’€™re not worth it.

KHOPOTSO: Have you ever felt pressured to have sex?

KIM: Not really. He asked me a couple of times, but I decided, no, I’€™m waiting for marriage.

KHOPOTSO: Almost one third of sexually experienced women, about 31%, reported that their first sexual encounter had been unwanted and that they had been coerced by their partners into having sex.

ANGELA: I’€™m Angela. I’€™m at AAA studying Marketing Communications. A lot of girls think that they love guys, you know, that they’€™re in love. I think it’€™s more lust, though. And when they claim that they do the boy expects them to give in and they say: ‘€œIf you love me, you will do it’€. And they feel like it is their duty, they are obligated to fulfil his needs, even though they’€™re not sure if they’€™re ready.

KHOPOTSO: Have you been in that position?

ANGELA: (laughs) No, I’€™ve never had that’€¦ I have broken it, yes. But that was because I wanted to, not because I was pressured into it. He’€™s never, never asked. He never, never asked me, no. It was my choice’€¦ The thing, also, we broke it together.

KHOPOTSO: How old were you when you broke it?

ANGELA: I was 18. I wanted to since 18 is an age of maturity. It just felt more secure. I don’€™t feel ashamed about saying I’€™ve done it at that age.

KHOPOTSO: How would rate yourself ‘€“ at risk, at little risk at no risk?                            

ANGELA: Nah, I don’€™t think I’€™m at risk at all. I really don’€™t. We don’€™t believe in not using a condom. Even if you love someone it shouldn’€™t be that way.      

KHOPOTSO: The individuals in this report clearly demonstrate that they know how to protect themselves against contracting HIV, as do most South African youths. But does this knowledge correspond with most of the youths’€™ sexual practices? In 14 days’€™ time South Africa celebrates national Youth Day. Young people’€™s participation against apartheid is noted. The commitment in the fight against HIV and AIDS, however, seems pitiful in comparison.

E-mail Khopotso Bodibe

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