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Agony Aunt: HIV

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Dear Aunt Madeline
I am a man aged 28 and I’m worried about my girlfriend’s HIV status, which is positive while I am negative. I would have dumped her but I can’t because I love her so much. At the same time, I am also worried about my safety if I go ahead and get married to her. Will we be able to start a new family without me getting infected?

I applaud you for not dumping your girlfriend because she is HIV positive. I am also glad that at least the two of you were open to each other and the HIV positivity is not a secret between the two of you. You are right to worry about your safety because you are then able to do something about preventing yourself from getting infected. You can get married and have safe sexual relationships through use of condoms. When you then decide to have a new family you can visit your health centre for advice on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), a programme that will assist in preventing your baby from getting infected. Your girlfriend also needs to be evaluated on whether she can start anti-retroviral (ARVs) medication for her sake, as this also gives a better chance in reducing transmission from the mother to the baby.

Dear Aunt Madeline
I’m a Form 3 pupil. Is there any risk of HIV transmission when getting a tattoo, body piercing or visiting the barber? I have noticed that most barber shops do not have sterilisers. Am I at risk of getting infected at a barber shop?

There is need for sterilisation of equipment used at barber shops for them to be safe. Please note that HIV does not survive well outside the human body. If the instrument that will be used on you comes directly from one person without being washed, you stand a chance of being infected not only by HIV but also by other infections that may be in the other person’s body

Dear Aunt Madeline
I’m a lady aged 22 and I have a loving younger sister. I heard rumours from my close relatives that my sister aborted a pregnancy last year. My parents are not aware of this but my relatives seemed quite sure because my sister had lost weight and was having bleeding continuously. It’s been worrying me for some time and I don’t know whether I should ask her about it and how I should ask her.

You should be thankful that you have relatives that are concerned about you and managed to inform you about your sister’s situation. I believe that you can approach your sister. I believe you can convince your sister to go for a check-up. Her continued bleeding is the reason why sheshould go for a check-up so that she is diagnosed for any problems that she may have. She might also be offered an HIV test when she goes for treatment.

Dear Aunt Madeline
My husband and I have been married for four years. He is not circumcised. Does it mean he will get HIV?

Your husband will not get infected by HIV as long as he practices safe sex. Circumcision is a strategy for prevention of HIV, which gives a 60% chance of preventing HIV infection. For it to be 100% effective, the method has to be used in conjunction with other HIV prevention methods such as condoms.

Send your questions to health@newsday.co.zw

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