IRIN/PlusNews Examines Issues Surrounding HIV-Positive Teenagers in Burkina FasoIRIN/PlusNews on Thursday examined issues surrounding HIV-positive teenagers in Burkina Faso, who are living longer because of antiretroviral treatment and are "expecting to become sexually active" and have children. According to IRIN/PlusNews, sexual activity among young people in Burkina Faso is "usually kept under the blanket," and if they are HIV-positive, the "issue becomes even harder to acknowledge."
Martine Somba -- president of Reve +, a not-for-profit group for people living with HIV/AIDS -- said that young people living with the disease in the country want to have normal sex lives. Somba added that these desires are reinforced by the fact that it is "practically inconceivable" to not have children in Africa, where "a couple who have been together two years without having a child are criticized."
In addition, although the country has a HIV prevalence of about 2%, there are still very few people who are open about their HIV status, making the situation "even more difficult," IRIN/PlusNews reports. Bernadette Pare of Reve + said, "The issue of telling people about your [HIV] status is a difficult one," especially for couples in which only one of the partners is HIV-positive. She added that "many girls and women find themselves on the streets when their (partner) finds out about their status." Pare noted that despite advice given to HIV-positive young people "about wearing condoms, girls are reluctant to do so because over time [it] might make their partner suspicious" that they are unfaithful.
Jacques Sanago, secretary general of the Association Espoir Pour Demain, said, "We tell [young people] that they are not the only ones in this situation" and that "thanks to [antiretroviral drugs], they will be able to have children one day by taking all the precautions." Alica Zoungrana, a pediatrician at the Charles de Gualle pediatric hospital in Ouagadougou, said, "We concentrate on prevention when talking to [HIV-positive] children. They need to understand that all is not lost and that they have the right to have children." She added that it is easier to instill prevention methods with children who have not become sexually active. "For someone who starts their sexual life using these methods, it's much easier to manage than an adult who had a normal sex life and then has to change their methods" (IRIN/PlusNews, 6/5). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.