I attended a youth HIV Educational/Planning Meeting last week. The meeting was focused on providing basic HIV information and then discussing possibilities for future youth (age 13-24) education/awareness events.
Well, there were about 10-15 young teens there, who are meant to become peer mentors/educators... and they had some pretty interesting questions about HIV, some of which I don't think the presenter quite answered clearly enough. So, I wanted to touch on them here, just so there are not any misconceptions floating around...
Question: Is green or smelly stuff coming from your genitals a sign of HIV?
Answer: No, a discolored or smelly discharge coming from your genitals is not a usual symptom of HIV. However, it may be a sign of another infection or STD, and it is important that you discuss it with your doctor.
Question: If you have blood in your pee does that mean you might have HIV?
Answer: No, having blood in your pee (urine) is not a usual symptom of HIV. However, it may be a sign of another infection or STD, and it is important to discuss it with your doctor.
Question: Are STDs curable?
Answer: Some STDs are curable, and some STDs are not curable. Examples of curable STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Examples of non-curable STDs are HIV, Herpes, HPV/genital warts, and Hepatitis.
Question: Do boys really have sex with other boys? How do they do that?
Answer: Yes, some boys do have sex with other boys. They may participate in a number of different sexual activities, including mutual masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, etc.
Question: If you share a lollipop with a friend, can you get HIV?
Answer: No, you do not get HIV from sharing food or lollipops with other people.
Question: If someone keeps getting sick and is losing a lot of weight, do you think they have HIV?
Answer: A person can get sick and lose weight for many different reasons. It does not necessarily mean they have HIV. They may have HIV, or they may have some other disease or illness.
Although some of these questions might seem a bit humorous at first, they were totally serious questions coming from 13, 14, and 15 year olds, and I think they deserve to have clear correct serious answers.
I am 28. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.