By Michael Gwarisa
AT a certain stage in life, the desire to be loved or love someone grips us all and the feeling to express one’s love through physical means overrides normal reasoning. Its more like ecstasy, you cant explain it!
However, for young adolescents living with HIV, expressing themselves in love relationships is a bit of a challenge as they have to juggle between telling their loved ones their true HIV status or withhold the truth until a certain time.
Just like any normal children, HIV positive adolescents also can love, feel, enjoy and celebrate love in a very normal way. The biggest challenge they face however is when and how they can and should tell their loved ones their HIV positive status.
In an interview on the sidelines of a National Aids Council (NAC) Editors Tour of the Rimuka HIV and TB Centre, 21 year old Prudence Neshamba (Not Real Name) said she discovered that she was HIV positive when she was in form 2 after her mother and sister had passed on in the same year.
“I started staying with my step mother who took me for an HIV test after i had fallen terribly sick. I was instantly absorbed on Anti Retro-viral Treatment (ART), but i was still in denial and i didn’t find a justifiable reason to take the tablets. So at times i would pretend like i had swallowed the medicine only to go outside and spit it out.
“When i was in form 2, every Friday we would have AIDS lessons, so the teacher would always talk about tablets and ARVs. That’s when i realised the tablets i was taking at home were ARVs. I started taking these tablets in 2008 when i was in grade 6 but never knew what they were meant for. A certain nurse at a local hospital told me my status but still it was difficult to accept it.
“I stopped taking ARVs, that was in 2011 up to 2013, when i completed my O Levels i moved here to Kadoma where i am staying with my uncle. I would go for my resupply days to collect my medicines but would not take the medicine.”
Prudence said she has a boyfriend but has not disclosed her status to him as yet. She said she would tell him soon but she has to know where the relationship is going first.
For 20 year old Byron Tomu (Not Real Name), he said he can only reveal his status after seeing how serious the relationship is.
“I tested for HIV in 2012 after i had visited my relatives in the rural areas. During my stay there, a certain team of doctors came to test people in the community for HIV so that is when i went and got tested only to discover that i was HIV positive.
“I went back to Kariba and i started taking ARVs in 2013, i was scared of taking these pills, i thought all that was left was death. At the moment, i don’t have a girlfriend, i have never had a girlfriend before. However, i will tell my girlfriend that i am positive when i get one. I will tell her later after seeing where the whole thing will be taking us,” said Tomu.
Tariro Ruhanya (NOT REAL NAME) who is also HIV positive said she does not have a boyfriend as yet but wishes to date one who is HIV negative and one who accepts her for who she is.
“Currently i am working here at the Kadoma TB/HIV center and i am doing my first aid course. I would want to marry at the age of 25 and would want someone who is HIV negative,” said Tairo.