Malawi: 'If You Love Me, Know My Status' – Safeguard Young People Helps Young People Cast Off HIV Stigma

Lilongwe — Chifundo Tindo lived with HIV for years before learning, at age 14, about her status.

which had been a closely guarded secret since she was a child, even as her sister made sure she took her antiretroviral (ARV) medication. “I asked her, ‘Why am I taking these drugs?’ She told me, ‘I don’t want you to fall sick currently as well as then.'”

As Ms. Tindo grew older, she began to challenge her sister’s instructions. “I began refusing to go to the hospital as well as taking ARVs, saying, ‘I’m not sick, why should I go to the hospital?’… Then my aunt came as well as told me about my status. I cried the whole day.”

Her family was supportive as she grappled with the news. “which was hard, however after some time, I accepted which,” she told UNFPA.

Life carried on normally, until Ms. Tindo had her first boyfriend.

Stigma can be deadly

The stigma attached to HIV can derail the health as well as safety of young people living with the virus. They may find themselves rejected by their peers, loved ones, community members or even health providers.

Ms. Tindo faced This specific rejection when she began dating.

“When I had my first boyfriend, my sister encouraged me which I should tell him about my status, however which was difficult for me.”

When she finally disclosed which she was living with HIV, “he said, no problem, everything is actually okay, you’re still mine,” she recounted to UNFPA recently. “however after he went home, he sent a text saying, ‘which’s over between us. I cannot continue being in love with someone who is actually HIV positive.'”

Discrimination as well as stigma undermine efforts to end the HIV epidemic. These attitudes can lead people to hide their status as well as create barriers to the very health services which prevent as well as treat the illness.

however education as well as support can empower young people to address the issue without shame.

No more fear

After her breakup, Ms. Tindo recalled, “I said I will never tell anyone about my status.”

however then she became involved in an organization for young people living with HIV, as well as became part of a community of supportive friends.

which was life changing, she recalled. “I said, ‘No, This specific is actually not an issue.”

Today, Ms. Tindo is actually a teacher, sharing her knowledge as well as experiences using a fresh generation of youth. She wants to help them protect themselves as well as live without fear – no matter their status.