His fingers dance in his open palms and his pupils betray the nerves he claims not to feel. It’s an uneasy moment, and, though I know statistics are firmly on his side, I can’t help but share in his angst. In just a couple of minutes this 17-year-old boy will learn his HIV status.
It’s half past two: pick-up time at the Desmond Tutu Youth Clinic opposite Masiphumelele High School. A small group of boys stand clad in their navy and turquoise uniforms eagerly anticipating a highlight of their after-school timetable: surfing with the Isiqalo Foundation.
The students’ ages range wildly – with some members obviously in their early twenties and sprouting thin mustaches and pin line beards. They are all participants in Isiqalo’s Waves for Change course, a pioneering surfing program that uses the positive draw of surfing to encourage young adults to engage with and discuss the issue of HIV amongst youth. This is their fifth session of eight, and the messages seem to be sticking. Today we will be delayed as two other members of the course have also decided to learn their status.