What you need to know about HIV in 2016
It’s 2016 chomas and we’re still talking about HIV. It’s a really important topic in South Africa because it continues to affect many lives and there are still many people who don’t understand the risks of HIV. Did you know that 79% of people don’t believe they are at risk of contracting HIV? The bad news is that the risk of HIV among SA teens is still really high. The good news is there is a lot being done in SA to make HIV a preventable and treatable disease.
So here’s what you need to know about HIV to keep you in the know in 2016.
Young Girls are at high risk of contracting HIV
Did you know that South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV in the world? It’s scary but true. What’s more, a recent study revealed that young girls are at a very high risk of contracting HIV. According to this study, 2 300 girls between the ages of 15 and 24 will contract HIV every single week. Boys in the same age group are not at high a risk as girls, which led the people doing the study to conclude that younger girls are actually being infected by older men.
This is important for you to know, especially as a young girl. Knowing your risks means knowing how to protect yourself. If you’re having sex it’s important to know your status and your partner’s status. It’s also important to use protection, especially if the person you’re having sex with is someone who might have other sexual partners.
HIV is Preventable
The above information is scary chomas, but knowing more about HIV makes it easier for you to know just how to try and prevent it. One important way that HIV is preventable is through the use of condoms. Most of you already know that condoms are important for preventing STIs, including HIV, as well as unwanted pregnancies. But did you know that there are many different condoms you can use? Condom manufacturers are constantly coming up with ways to make condoms more pleasurable, more exciting and safer to use. Even better, did you know about the female condom? You can read more about it here.
The female condom is said to be just as effective as the male condom. In fact, some people who have used it say that it feels better to use than the male condom.
There is also PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) which is a form of anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected. Soon this will be more available to those most at risk of HIV in South Africa.
Knowing your status also helps prevent the spread of HIV. Did you know that home-testing HIV kits are now available in South Africa? Soon you’ll get a chance to learn your status from the comfort of your own home. Learning your status is not just to help prevent the spread of HIV from one person to another, but also to help those who are HIV positive get treatment early. Which is my next point.
HIV is Treatable
HIV stigma is actually worse than HIV. People are scared to learn about their status because they are scared of how they would be treated if they found out they were living with HIV. One reason people are stigmatised for HIV is because some people still think of it as a “sinner’s disease”. But by now chomas, we all know that it takes sleeping with just one infected person to become infected with HIV. HIV is also passed on through needles or from mother to child. So HIV is not only sexually transmitted. Learning your status means that you can get the treatment you need sooner. This will actually help you live a longer and healthier life. There’s no reason why someone who could have access to HIV treatment should go without it, especially not in 2016.
Even though it’s 2016, there are lots of myths that still go around about HIV. This spreads stigma and actually makes it harder for people to protect themselves from infection or to get treatment if they are infected. Remember that it’s always good to know your status and the status of your sexual partner. It’s also always good to protect yourself from HIV and other STIs by using condoms when you have sex.
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