Case Study: Parents think their kids are innocent

A19-year-old girl who is HIV positive discusses her experiences
of sex and relationships education:

“No one ever wanted to attend PSHE at my school. We thought that
we had enough information from the media. 

The information was there – I remember the teacher bringing in
someone who had an STI to talk to us about how we should be safer
and should always use condoms. The teacher explained how to use a
femidom, but one of the girls replied ‘if I take that to my
boyfriend, he will think I’ve been sleeping around’.

They went on to tell us about Brook centres, where we could get
help, but I don’t think anyone ever went. We even had a guidance
counsellor, but she left as no one went to her either.

I was too scared to go there in case someone saw me. Instead,
once I was diagnosed, I always went to my HIV doctor. The fear of
being seen getting help was more important in our minds than
anything else in the world.

Parents think that their kids are innocent, and fight against
our education. One parent came to our school and had a go at the
teacher because she had given us information on preventing the
spread of STIs. The parent said that it wasn’t the teacher’s
responsibility to teach us about sex. That same year her daughter
fell pregnant.

My problem hasn’t been finding enough information about sex. It
has been in learning about the emotional side. External counsellors
and workers need to build up trust with us, to give us somewhere to
go for help.

Instead of just focusing on HIV and pregnancy – which most young
people think will never happen to them – we need to talk about
everything surrounding sex. Hearing first-hand experiences of other
young people, and learning how they overcame fears of using
services would be a good first step.

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