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Innocent. Photo supplied ~

​MY name is Innocent* and I am 20 years old, a second year electrical infrastructure and construction student in Durban.

I attended the launch of the youth-friendly clinic in Lamontville, Durban which makes sure that young people have their own space at the health centre, where they can talk about things like HIV and STIs and pregnancy.

I don’t usually go to the clinic but I do attend community events that have anything to do with HIV because it is such a serious issue.  At school I used to attend such events about HIV and share the information I got there with other guys.

As youth, we do know about condoms and prevention but many young guys say using condoms is boring. I tell them “that’s too bad but you still need to protect yourself and your partner”. They must protect themselves or abstain. That is the choice.

The good part about this clinic is that there is a space where youth can just hang out and chill, chat to each other. It is easier when we talk to our own age group – talking to older people is like speaking to our parents. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a lady nurse than to a man. It would be embarrassing to talk to a man about STIs, really.

Some of the issues that go with HIV, like beating girls, is not in my age group.  That is done by older men. For us, if a girl says “no” then it is “no”.  We have to respect that.

As a guy, if you have a partner then everyone can see that and it makes you feel good.  If guys see a girl they like they will tell their friends “I am going to get her.” Then they put each other under pressure to do whatever it takes to impress her.  Other guys will laugh at you if you fail and then you feel bad.

But we are put under pressure as students because girls get things from older guys. Girls want to be taken to nice places and bought nice things.

Some girls say they aren’t after that and that they love you. At first you can believe it then you realise they also want those expensive things the blessers can buy.

As a student it is hard but I can only share the little pressure I have. If it’s not enough for her, then I must leave her. But sometimes it is hard emotionally, because it is not just about sex. Love is love.

*Surname withheld