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 Wednesday 22 July 2009
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Amanda Kubeka, "When it's a positive result ... it's not easy to tell the client"
July 2009 (PlusNews)

Photo: Laura Lopez Gonzalez/IRIN
"When you are doing counselling you need to be yourself first"
JOHANNESBURG, When Amanda Kubeka saw her cousins in Johannesburg, South Africa, struggling to cope with their newly diagnosed HIV infection, she decided to do something about it by volunteering at a local clinic. She is now a counsellor at the Emthonjeni voluntary testing and counselling centre at one of the city's busiest taxi ranks. She spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about what it is like to assist people through a test that could change their lives forever.

"Sometimes it is [difficult to break the news]. It's easy when it's a negative result, but when it's a positive result and a person came in and was so sure they were negative, only to be disappointed to find out that they are positive, it's not easy to tell that client.

"If it's early in the morning and it's your first client, your spirit does go down; it's not nice. Then, if the next client again is positive, it spoils my day, but what can I do? I'm doing what I love and I've got passion for what I do.

"When you are doing counselling you need to be yourself first - you need to be honest, friendly, patient, and you need to empathise with the client; put yourself in their shoes.

"You need to deal with the client's feelings; you need to reflect on what they are feeling. Tell them, 'I see that you are feeling angry'. Ask them, probe, 'Why are you feeling like this? Do you understand what these results mean?'" You need to go deeper into their feelings.

"When you find discordant couples [where one partner is positive and the other is not] it is difficult because you have to deal with so many feelings – they blame themselves, and one [of them] may say, 'You brought this onto us'.

"[Safe sex] is a big challenge, especially with married couples, because they really don't understand why one is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative - they've been married for more than 20 years and now they have to introduce condoms.

"That's why we have sessions where we try to teach them how to initiate condom usage, and it's difficult, especially for women, to introduce condoms. Most women say: 'You know what? We feel like cannot introduce condoms to our partners, but we've got kids and we need to be there for our kids.'

"My favourite part [of the job] is those sessions ... [where] we empower women to take a stand, because sometimes they feel so helpless. At the end of the day, it's your decision whether you want to use a condom."



[The above testimony is provided by IRIN, a humanitarian news service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

IRIN welcomes editorial and photographic submissions for inclusion on this page, reserving the right to select and edit as appropriate.
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.