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Foundation brings dialogue about HIV/Aids and other diseases to local youth

We need to be intentional about countering these experiences with positive experiences, the art of the possible.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund hosted a dialogue about HIV/AIDS and other sexual reproductive health diseases at the hospital on February 23.

These conversations were filtered around young people, creating a space where they are able to freely ask questions around these topics.

HIV/AIDS discussions are almost less had in spaces of young people because of the stigma that is attached to the disease. However, the panellists spoke about the importance of destigmatising how communities unpack people living with HIV..

Samke Mnguni, Youth Leadership Programme Manager at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund highlighted the significance of having such talks with young people.

“It is important to conduct conversations that destigmatise HIV/AIDS as well as educate young people.

“This is to change the trajectory of the youth, so that they start making positive decisions around their sexual behaviours,” she said.

According to Kuthula Mkhize, CEO of the award-winning NPO, Good Stories Foundation, how black townships speak about HIV is driven by the unintended campaigns that were advertised back in the days such as the ABC campaign that was accompanied by pictures of skinny dying people and personal lived experiences. Mkhize has been living with HIV for 15 years.

“I think we need to diverge from the term ‘people are HIV positive into people living with HIV, because they are living,” said Mkhize.

“We need to be intentional about countering these experiences with positive experiences, the art of the possible. It is called Good Stories because we document good stories of people living with HIV successfully.”

There has been outrage following a report on the rise of STIs in Gauteng amongst young people. This therefore, questions if young people are practicing safe sex or there is less education around sexually transmitted diseases.

Mnguni stated said, “Young people are not reckless, but if they do not have information and knowledge their behaviour can be reckless. So, it is important that they seek out informative platforms on social media.”

Mkhize continued and spoke about pill fatigue escape that young people and adults are using to stop taking their medication. He believes that this pill is a daily reminder of something they have not yet dealt with.

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Pill fatigue is when a person loses motivation to take their medication, typically due to what’s known as a ‘high pill burden’.

“The problem is not the pill but the emotional attachment they have towards the pill. It is just a constant reminder of what they have not dealt with, they could have been infected through rape and unfaithful partner,” Mkhize concluded.