Being a young person in South Africa is hard. Young men and women are worried about school, finding work and relationships as well as thinking about sex. Being HIV positive makes this even more complicated and relationships can be tough.

Young people infected with HIV as babies may find it difficult explaining to their first boyfriend or girlfriend that they are HIV positive, even though they have not had sex before. Giving the participants in your group help with these kinds of difficult conversations will support them and help them have healthier, happier relationships. You can help them explain to others that HIV isn’t only transmitted sexually, and that they became HIV positive as a baby. This means that their mother was HIV positive – this isn’t about blaming anyone, but helping to explain their HIV status.

You could suggest that:
It is difficult, but talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend about HIV is something that you need to do to help both of you stay healthy.

You don’t have to tell anyone your status if you are not ready, so don’t feel you have to rush.

Find a time when you are on your own together and know you won’t be interrupted.

Be prepared for different reactions – they may be upset or confused and not know what to say.

They may have lots of questions which might sound silly to you because you know about HIV, but they might not have the same knowledge that you do.

Example SMS:

Are you in a relationship? Have you talked to your partner about HIV? Tell us your experiences.

What is being a young person in South Africa like today? Tell us the best thing about your day!  

When you tell your boyfriend or girlfriend that you are HIV positive, choose a quiet time when you are alone. They will probably have lots of questions.

There may be things about HIV that you don’t understand. Ask for help at your clinic or from Khuluma if you need more information.