By Flavia Nalwanga
The efforts towards sensitising people about HIV/AIDS are commendable. Although statistics show that there are more sensitisation campaigns now than ever before, especially among the youth, infection rates are high among this group.
I did a survey among some well-educated friends. I asked questions about condom use and abstinence. One boy answered: â€œI hate condoms and besides, I know the people I sleep with.â€
Men should stop assuming they know someone too well. Even if the person you are about to have sex with is a virgin, she might have the virus. Some are born with it. Some of the people who were born with the virus might not even know they have it, because many parents hide this information from their children.
These children go on to spread the virus unknowingly. For people who hate condoms: Do you hate condoms more than you love life? Young men should learn to take condom use seriously.
And girls should note that men and boys who are against condom use may actually be infected and have nothing to lose. If your partner will not use condoms run for dear life. Your life is not dependent on sleeping with someone that night.
There are many campus girls who think it is not cool to abstain. To these girls, do you know why there are fewer virgins left in our society? The choice to be a virgin starts with school and friends.
My advise to young people is, do not yield to peer pressure to have sex on rampage.
I once had a chat with two girl friends who related to me a story about a virgin girl who was laughed at by her colleagues. To all virgins out there, you are a superior lot to your peers who squandered their innocence and caved in to peer pressure. What is it about virginity that angers those who have lost it?
It is amazing how people who have lost their virginity are intent on recruiting more people into their circle, the way drug abusers and cult members do. Never feel pressured into having sex, there is always a right time.
If you are old enough to have sex, then you should be bold enough to buy condoms. If you cannot step up to the counter and ask the shop attendant to hand you a pack of condoms, then you have no business having sex.
True, some people associate condoms with prostitutes but using them is easier than getting HIV. Anyone who has business looking into your purse and seeing condoms, is close enough to know you are not a prostitute but are responsible for your life.
The other thing young people have to embrace is having an HIV test. I used to be afraid of an HIV/AIDS test because of the fear of being pricked and the fear of positive results. But I finally got tested.
Failure to get tested endangers the lives of all your sexual partners. Not knowing your status endangers your life because if you have the virus, the earlier you start treatment the longer you will live.
Forget the misconception that you will start dying the moment you learn that you are positive. The virus will multiply in your body, whether you know of it or not.
Preserve your lives, abstain from sex, use condoms and be faithful. HIV/AIDS is an expensive illness. The money used on treatment could be used to start a big investment. If you do not want to live the rest of your life on medication, if you want to see your dreams come true, protect yourself.
Protecting yourself means protecting those around you physically and emotionally because this illness comes with emotional strain and endless pain.
The writer is a student of Makerere University