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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 11:38 GMT
Has HIV changed our relationships?
A couple cuddling on the sofa
Given the prevalence of HIV in Africa, have we learnt to be more frank and honest about our sexual relationships?

As the United Nations marks World Aids Day, more than 25 million people in Africa are living with HIV.

The latest report from UNAids and the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that sub-Saharan Africa is still the most affected area globally, with 64% of new infections.

How many of us actually know whether we are HIV-positive or not? Have you had the courage to go for a test? When is the right time to take off the condom? Should we know our HIV status before we go looking for Mr or Mrs Right?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments

Your comments

I am getting married soon. My gal and I have just gone for an HIV test. We are both negative and ready to get married and be faithful to each other.
John Tanyai, Sheffield, UK

I would like to first of all say that going for a test is a good thing but for me I don't think I will ever do it for one simple reason. I don't want to know how I will die! I am taking all steps to keep myself away from HIV. I always go with a condom.
Nasser D. Sheriff, Monrovia, Liberia

I believe the life we lead is a safe one
Rashid in Freetown
I enjoy my relationship with my girlfriend as I always have and I believe the life we lead is a safe one.
Rashid, Freetown, Sierra Leone

I believe HIV is a curse from God. Why doesn't the whole world and pray over it? If we confess of our sins and I believe God will definitely forgive us and heal us. God, please forgive us and hear us.
Pamela, Monze, Zambia

I am afraid to say that when I look at all girls, I assume that they are all HIV-positive. I believe this will help me abstain from sex until the time is right for me to decide when to take my HIV test.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Bamenda, Cameroon

My allegiance is to God, and I believe I must stick with my wife as she sticks with me.
Sichalwe Haggai, Lusaka, Zambia

The ABCD strategy with A going for Abstinence, B for behavioral change if you fail to abstain, C for Condoms, and D for death if you fail in the prior three works for Uganda in that order.
Nyangabyaki Akiiki, Mbarara, Uganda

On the occasion of World Aids Day, our authorities allow us to do free tests in health centres across the country. As for me I am a student at the University of Douala. I took advantage of this occasion to do my test. I did it in the University hospital. But the result is yet to be out. Every time I want to make love I ask for a condom. Having sex without a condom is very risky. As a student I think every youth must avoid unsafe sexual behaviour.
Marcel Ngomduml, Douala, Cameroon

I think it is better if you know your status. Trust no one, even yourself. Be faithful to your partner or always use a condom.
Masingita, Dublin

I must say that the best decision I ever made about my health was going for the HIV test. All the anxiety and worries I had vanished on finding that my test was negative. I've even become more careful with my life and as an added bonus, I've stopped drinking. Definitely my spouse-to-be must undergo the test too!

It's about a change of behaviour. We should look to God and obey his commandments. Those who want to get married should have HIV tests beforehand and be faithful to each other afterwards. God gave Adam one woman and likewise Eve had one man.
Holyfield Chamadenga, Kasungu, Malawi

I think it's more saddening to fall pregnant before going for a test. That innocent child deserves the right to live an HIV-free life. Test before falling pregnant. It's worth it.
Limpho Seeiso, Maseru, Lesotho

I don't know whether I'm HIV positive and I actually don't want to know. The reason being that some people might treat me like an outcast. I don't think there is a right time to take off the condom since you can't trust anyone when it comes to HIV. But I believe married couples have no choice but to take it off. I think we should know our HIV status before getting into marriage because you might be innocent and ignorant but end up contracting HIV just because you decided to trust a partner.
Johnny Abdallah, Accra

Let's check our status first so as to make marriage a wonderful experience
Said Massonde
I think one should take time to find out about their HIV status before even thinking of making a choice on who to marry. I reckon HIV positive people should go out of their way to refrain from passing their condition onto those they will be supposed to love. You definitely cannot love someone whose life you've destroyed. Let's check our status first so as to make marriage a wonderful experience.
Said Massonde, Comoros

I think most people have not yet tested because of the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS patients. Let us all fight against this to save more lives. I am particularly concerned with those children orphaned as the result of losing parents through HIV/AIDS. Please let us protect the future generations by controlling our sexual activities. God help us!!!!
Gady Mwamba Museka, Lusaka, Zambia

Many people fear going for the test even when the time for marriage comes because of its stigma and the fear of being rejected by their partner. This topic reminds me of the story of a certain religious man in Bujumbura who insisted that a couple had HIV tests before they got married. Guess what happened? The result was positive for the man and it was the end of the story. I can't think of going for an HIV test because I've chosen abstinence as the remedy until I get married. Under the pressure of feelings, one can easily forget to put on a condom.
Kapinga Ntumba, Harare, Zimbabwe

I am a British woman engaged to a Congolese man. We spoke very extensively about STIs and particularly HIV before embarking on anything sexual and had tests to check that we were both clear of any STIs before having sex without a condom. Frankly though, while I know how high the HIV risk is in Africa, I would take the same precautions before sleeping with anyone without a condom. It's just about being responsible. We were both sensible about it and respected that it was a really important thing to do.
Anon, Manchester, UK

A friend told me it's much preferable to stay without knowing your status because when you do and it turns out you are positive, you immediately start dying psychologically. Do you know how it feels when you are handed down a death sentence? The state of your mind forces you to fall ill. Well, for me I think our lives are really sacred so one needs to carry out an HIV/AIDS test before getting married. One never knows.
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Bamenda, Cameroon

The truth of the matter is that most people in Africa do not know their HIV status. Why? Most of them don't believe that Aids does truly exist. Also, the illiteracy level in Africa is very high and even if they have been hearing about it, they just don't know how to go about it. I personally have been tested and that was because it was among the conditions for my employment in a good job. I wouldn't have gone for an HIV test just for confirmation's sake. But now I think it is necessary for us to know our HIV status before we go looking for Mr or Mrs Right.
Chukwurah Simeon, Calabar, Nigeria

I must stick to my wife as she sticks to me
Sichalwe Haggai
My allegiance is to God, and I must stick to my wife as she sticks to me.
Sichalwe Haggai, Lusaka, Zambia

I become very scared any time the issue of HIV/AIDS is mentioned or discussed. Even though the recorded cases of the disease are not very high in Ghana. I believe there should be a new approach to how the disease can be controlled in Africa. The awareness has already been created but it looks as if people do not want to change their attitude regarding sex. Men these days are something else. They will always chase women like crazy. The fact is they are compounding the situation in Africa. Even people in authority do not care a hoot, and chase women who are even younger than their children. Where is this leading us?
Victoria Darko, Kumasi, Ghana

I am very sorry to say so but my policy is that I look at all girls as if they are positive. This will help me a lot to wait until the time for me to decide who to take for an HIV test. Many girls have ended relationships with me because I was not satisfying their desire. Few have the courage to live with people living with Aids.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Bamenda, Cameroon

I have been married, but fortunately am now divorced (Hurray!!). Now I have peace of mind and do not have to worry whether or not my partner is being unfaithful. I had an HIV test a year after my separation and decided to always play it safe by staying alone and not having any sexual relationships. At least now I have complete PEACE of mind and don't have to worry whether or not a partner will infect me. Nowadays, no one can be trusted!
Nita Jones, England

Many of us do not have the courage to go for a blood test
Daud Kaghembe, UK
In many African societies, people consider HIV/AIDS as a shameful disease coming as a result of promiscuity or deviant sex. That's why many of us do not have the courage to go for a blood test. We therefore don't know whether we are HIV-positive or not. In my opinion I think it is a good idea for people to know their HIV status before they get married. Why? Firstly because if the disease is diagnosed early then it is somehow easier to deal with.
Daud Kaghembe, Tanzanian in Coventry, UK.

I think there is growing number of people living in urban areas in most parts of Africa who have been sensitised and decide to voluntarily go for HIV test. Much has to be done in rural areas. I have had a courage to voluntarily go for HIV test, and know my status. Either one gets to know their status before looking for a partner or, after finding one, the two decide to go for blood tests and thereafter keep their fidelity.
Elihuruma Ngowi, Cape Town, South Africa


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