Consider HIV a second chance at life and not a death sentence

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is described as a virus that attacks the immune system, the body's natural defense system.

During this discussion Eusebius McKasier and guests get to the bottom of disclosure, grappling with stigmas and engaging in safer sexual activities.

Francois Venter, Deputy Executive Director, WHI (Wits Institute for Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and Related Diseases says around seven million South African are living with HIV.

HIV incidence refers to the number of new infections in a new year - while prevalence refers to the absolute number diagnosed and living with the virus, explains Venter, who notes the importance of distinguishing between the two.

Incidence in this country is somewhere between 300 000 and 400 000 people getting infected every year and there is about seven million people with HIV at the moment, that is the prevalence.

Francois Venter, Deputy Executive Director, WHI (Wits Institute for Sexual & Reproductive Health, HIV and Related Diseases

Thula Mkhize is an HIV positive activist and the brainchild behind 'Good Stories' an initiative aimed at proving that living with HIV/AIDS and TB doesn't have to be the end.

Mkhize says nothing needs to change nor restrict him from living his best life because he is HIV positive. He admits though that it is not without challenges when dealing with new relationships.

When I tested positive, she still dated me for two years. After those two years, it was difficult.

Thula Mkhize, HIV positive activist and founder of Good Stories

Mkhize admits that he only disclosed his status after his two-year relationship with his ex-girlfriend ended. He says he went back to his previous partners to not only disclose but also apologise for what he calls, his selfish behaviour.

Mkhize also brings up the challenges he faced with navigating a healthy sexual relationship with his partner who was HIV negative.

Honesty about one's status and taking precautionary safety measures is extremely important he insists.

Venter brings up a study, done in America that demonstrate most HIV transmissions occur from individuals who don't know their status. In fact, he believes it is safer to have sex with an HIV positive individual who is on ARVs and whose viral load is negligible, than someone who does not disclose their status.

It is often the individual living with HIV that carries the guilt in a serodiscordant relationship and this can result in sexual dysfunction.

One of the public health benefits of people knowing their status is the ability to protect their partners.

Francois Venter, Deputy Executive Director, WHI (Wits Institute for Sexual & Reproductive Health, HIV and Related Diseases

Take a listen to the full discussion here:


This article first appeared on 702 : Consider HIV a second chance at life and not a death sentence


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