Many of the young people in your support groups may still be at school.  They will be experiencing all the normal stresses of school – worrying about their grades, thinking about their friends and relationships, not liking some of their subjects – but may also be worrying about HIV.

Educators don’t always have enough information about HIV to help the learners in their schools.  They can’t support the learners in the same way that you as a Khuluma mentor can.

Young people living with HIV may be struggling with the side-effects of their medication or they might have to take a day off school to collect their ARV’s.  Explaining this to a teacher will help them be sympathetic and will make sure that they understand why the learner is often absent.  You could encourage your young participants to tell someone at their school who they trust if they are missing class a lot because of going to the clinic.  

One challenge is that young people might feel uncomfortable when HIV is talked about in Life Orientation or Life Skills classes.  They might feel embarrassed or think that everyone is looking at them.  Remind them that nobody will know they are HIV positive unless they have told them – they can still take part in discussions about HIV without having to share their status.

Remind your younger participants that it is their choice to disclose – they don’t have to tell anyone at their school if they don’t want to, but it could help them to talk to someone if they trust them and think they can help.

Example SMS:

How does it make you feel when people talk about HIV at school?

Is there anyone at your school who is supporting you?  Tell us how they help! (You don’t have to tell us their name)

School is difficult enough without worrying about HIV.  If there is someone in your school that you trust, you could disclose to them so they can support you.

You might not want to take your medication to school.  Can you take it in the morning or the evening so you don’t have to carry it with you?

Studying is important and will help you find a job when you leave school.  If you’re finding your work hard, ask one of your educators for help.