Many children in South Africa are HIV-positive. Some children were found to be born HIV-positive and others only discovered they were HIV-positive a few years later. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between most HIV-positive kids and HIV-negative kids, because most of them are also strong and healthy.
Nowadays, if someone is HIV-positive, they can lead a long and happy a life just like an HIV-negative person, provided they get the treatment that they need and take it as regularly as they should.
One of the things that does stop HIV-positive kids from getting this treatment is the fear of being judged or shamed for being HIV-positive. Many HIV-positive people go to clinics regularly to collect their treatment so that they can stay healthy. But, some HIV-positive people don’t get their treatment as often as they should because they are afraid of being judged or made fun of, or they don’t tell others why they need to get to the clinic to get their treatment. When treatment stops, or is inconsistent, it can be dangerous for the HIV-positive person. It’s very important that HIV-positive people on treatment continue to take their treatment everyday as they should.
We can all help by supporting HIV-positive people and being supportive and mindful of what we say about those who are HIV-positive. Sometimes you can also even help someone to go collect their medication or excuse them if they are going to be late for school or some other appointment if they need to collect it themselves.
Remember, if someone tells you that they are HIV-positive it means that they trust you and they need you to be able to keep this information to yourself. It wouldn’t be right for you to tell others about someone’s HIV status unless they specifically told you that you can. Let’s get rid of stigma by helping others to realise that there is nothing shameful about being HIV-positive.