An article from Zimbabwe asks ‘Is the [HIV] message clear enough for the youth?’ After all, various HIV campaigns have been going for many years. But many of these campaigns depict HIV positive people, and those at risk of being infected, as immoral and as people who are involved in all sorts of ‘disreputable’ activities.
Then the article introduces ‘Shirley’, who is 18 and thinks she knows everything about HIV. Yet, after donating blood, she was called by the clinic and asked to make an appointment to see the doctor there. She turned out to be HIV positive. She was already sexually active but she generally took precautions, with a couple of exceptions.
It appears from the story that Shirley is still not aware that she is more likely to have been infected in the blood donation clinic than through having unprotected sex ‘a couple’ of times. But she told her partner the results of her test, who refused to be tested himself, and the relationship has now ended.
Shirley concludes from this that her former boyfriend infected her, even though she doesn’t even know whether he was infected or not. HIV prevalence among teenage males is usually considerably lower than among females, so it is very likely that he is HIV negative and that, even if he is HIV positive, he is still unlikely to have infected her after so few sex acts.
The blood donation clinic in Zimbabwe needs to investigate the possibility that this young woman was infected as a result of donating blood. The VCT clinic she attended, more importantly, needs to ask clients about their non-sexual risks, as well as their sexual risks. Especially when the risk of sexual exposure was so low. And children, in and out of school, need to be informed of the non-sexual risks they face in order to take precautions.
That’s what this site is about, letting people know that HIV transmission is not just about sex, it is also about contaminated blood and other bodily fluids that people can come into contact with when visiting health and cosmetic facilities.