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Managing your own relationship
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
Extracted from Whazzup Magazine, February 2008

Love is beautiful and a relationship is wonderful but you should strive to be the change you want to see in the world, and remember it takes two to tango, so communicate with your partner and be mutually faithful to each other. Below is some useful information which you need to take note of.

For a relationship to protect you and your friend(s) from HIV, it must be truly 'mutually monogamous'. You can have all the sex that you want but only between the two of you (or more!)

This means:

  • No random sex partners
  • No cheating
  • No moonlighting
  • If you truly are decided on protecting one another, you have to stick to each other.

However as human beings, we frequently have sex outside our partnerships. We love it and most of the time; we find it difficult to tell our mates what we have done.

So what should we do?

1. Talk it over with your mate. Always. Frequently. Regularly. Do you want to continue like this? Would you want a more 'open' relationship? Would you want to go out with others? You can always re-define your relationship.

2. Always have safe sex. Always

3. Test for HIV (all partners together if possible at least twice a year.)

Remember the simple fact that, as human beings, we are never perfect. Your partner is not perfect, and though you may trust your life to him or her, you need to make a periodic check on it!

The HIV test is so important that we are recapping a few things about it.

Why is the HIV Test important?

Taking the HIV test is the only way that you can know whether or not you have the virus. It may take 3 to 15 years for a person who has the virus (HIV) to start becoming sick. During this time, he or she may still transmit it to any partner.

Why does one need to take the test?

Because if you are sexually active, you are exposed to the virus. If you have been sexually active before, you have been exposed to the virus. Not knowing does not help. But when you know whether you are positive or negative, this knowledge will put you in control of your life. (You and we can do something about it!)

Are there any limitations?

There is a window period of three to six months. During this time the test is negative, even when a person has the virus. Doctors recommend taking the test at least once a year so that you know your status and so that you continue protecting yourself.

What if it is positive?

Cheer up! Yes! This is not a death sentence. We can live with the virus. There is much that we can do to stay healthy and plan for the future. Life is not ending.

  • You will need to confirm the test
  • Get in touch with other positive friends
  • Drop us an e-mail (to be treated in confidence) health@galz.co.zw

What if it is negative?

Great! And if we live responsibly, we can make sure that we do not get the virus by:

  • Having sex, which is great, and safe!
  • Using condoms with water-based lubricants
  • Getting treatment for any STDs as soon as possible

If you have any question, ask! If you have any problems, we will do what we can.

Safer Sex & Sexual Responsibilities

Safe sex

Sex comprises many things, but in our messages to you, we always seem to be emphasising anal or penetrative sex. There are many things that we do which encompass the beautiful experience of sex. There are lovely and satisfying. They all contribute to our pleasure during the act of sex.

They do to have all the same risk of transmitting HIV from one person to another. It is safe to hold a positive person's hand, to kiss him or her, to cuddle and to masturbate together. It is safe to rub against one another till you cum. All these contribute to our enjoyment of each other's bodies.

But there are high-risk actions. These high-risk actions can be made safe. Anal sex between men and going down (licking) during the menses between women are high risks. Penetrative anal sex is one of the highest risk behaviors for getting HIV. That is why we have been emphasising on making this safe. Truth is it can be made safe and enjoyed without fear.

You should get to know that high-risk, low-risk and no-risk behaviors are. You should know them because that knowledge has the power of life for you. Safe anal sex means using a condom, and water-based lubricant, such as KY jelly available without a prescription from pharmacies and some supermarkets. There is safe sex between men, between women and between a man and a woman.

In the course of any effort to control HIV, we need to talk about testing for the virus.

Why?

The HIV virus gets into our bodies mainly through sex. The body tries to fight the virus. It can control it, at least for a while, but it does not eliminate it completely. During this period, the person feels perfectly normal. He or she may do everything and be okay, like everyone else. There is actually nothing that can show that you have contracted the virus. Only the test for HIV can show that the virus has infected you.

The period varies from person to person, but can be as short as three years and as long as 15 years. During this period you can infect your sexual partners. Conversely, if you are negative and your partner is positive, he or she can infect you. Remember you cannot tell who has the virus just by looking.

So why test?

Testing helps you know about your status. Knowledge is power. Not knowing does not change your status. Knowing will give you the opportunity to plan your life.

Remember HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence. We can do a lot when we know our status, even when we are positive. It does not mean that we are going to die now. We can do something about being positive and live a wonderful, fulfilling life. Knowing that we are negative is also important. It gives us the will to protect ourselves. It gives us the motivation to have our pleasure safely. We are empowered to protect ourselves and also to protect our partners.

Testing in Zimbabwe

There are many Voluntary Testing and Counselling (VCT) Centre where you can get tested for HIV. The New Start Centers are all over Zimbabwe. You can also ask the local clinic, hospital or a doctor about where to get counseling and testing. Choose the one that is most comfortable for you. Go and have the test: it is worth it.

You will also have the chance to talk one-on-one with a health worker about prevention. Sure, they may not know about prevention. Sure, they may not know about gay sex but they will give you some important pointers and you can ask questions.

If you are positive and aware, and would like to meet and talk with others who are also positive or just affected get in touch with The Gals Health Department, or simply send an email to: health@galz.co.zw. You can also do the same if you want to chat about testing. Everything will be done in confidence. GALZ counselors are fully qualified.

Visit the GALZ fact sheet

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