HIV-Positive Won't Stop Her
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“I was often sick, and we used to go to hospital with my granny. When my mother died, granny left the doctor’s office crying. I was thinking to myself, what could afflict her so much? She then told me about my HIV status and that I would constantly have to take medicine.”
15 year old Liza, from the Ukraine, may have been diagnosed with HIV at a young age, but that does not stop her. Liza is a well-known civic activist not only in her home country, but abroad. She openly talks about her HIV status and speaks about the issue among children and adults. She knew she had HIV since she was young – her mother was a drug addict who died from AIDS when Liza was just 6 years old.
Why Be an Activist for HIV & AIDS?
Liza said she told her friend about her HIV during class and she was so scared about what her friend would say or do, she ran into the bathroom to hide. Luckily, her friends and her family were very supportive.
However, she struggled with her teachers' response to her diagnosis due to lack of awareness and the spread of stereotypes in the classroom. For example, during one of Liza's health classes, they said HIV could be transmitted airborne or by shaking hands with someone who has HIV. Discrimination examples like these prompted Liza to take action.
Why HIV-positive Can't Stop Her Now
Liza did not sit back and listen to the stereotypes she heard and faced in her classroom. She wanted to raise awareness. She wanted to speak out and get involved! Liza began to be involved with the School of young leaders which is organized by the Eastern European and Central Asia Association of People Living with HIV with the support of UNICEF. She has also represented HIV positive children at a meeting with the President of Ukraine, and has spoken publicly to Kerkovna Rada of Ukraine to allocate funds for the treatment of HIV/Aids, and other disease in the state budget. Her speech in Parliament made her nationally known as it was broadcast on TV.
Recently, in September, Liza supported the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) which is a UNICEF initiative that draws attention to the importance of child's rights and their significance of football in their rehabilitation. Liza went and participated in the opening in one of the most crowded games of the year to support the players of England and Ukraine on their way to the World Cup 2014. Liza in support of the game and her civic activism spoke about the event: “I was very lucky to get at such an important game for our country. It was so amazing that almost 70,000 people including myself and other children watched the game at the stadium. They will remember the match for a long time. I and other children who opened the match with the players will remember this game even longer. This is unforgettable!"
For more, see here:http://www.unicef.org/ukraine/media_24708.html
photo © UNICEF / UKRAINE / 2013 / R.Rudakov
What does Liza's story mean to you?