The Role of Young People Living with HIV in the Prevention Revolution
I’m sure that a lot of us have heard at least once about HIV; about its effects on health, about its impact on entire countries and specifically on certain populations - in most of the cases populations affected by discrimination. Some of us have not just heard about HIV, some of us are living with it.
And that is exactly what I want to talk about, some of us positive youth used to have some wrong ideas about prevention, the use of condom, or what does HIV causes to your body and health, some of us didn’t hear anything about HIV before we knew we are living with it. Ask yourself something, how useful can be YPLHIV experiences in creating prevention messages and campaigns?
If we all are supposed to learn from our (bad or good) experiences, then why are we not taking YPLHIV experiences as a lesson on what is lacking on prevention campaigns and programmes?
One of my very best friends told me that illogical questions lead to amazing answers. That’s why I try over and over again to ask myself questions that lead to answers that could help others to find the way to build good things for all of us based on my experience as a young person living with HIV.
So please ask yourself, if you were a positive young person do you think that you have all the elements that you need to live just like every other young person would? Sometimes living with HIV makes you grow up a little bit faster than others, you need to worry about things that other young persons normally don’t. It doesn’t bother me but I think all this experience could be more useful when creating new prevention strategies.
If behind every young person living with HIV is an experience that can influence other youth to prevent HIV, then why don’t we hear what positive youth want to say? Definitely we can make a difference to HIV prevention campaigns and strategies, we can even address different issues at the same time, If YPLHIV are involved on designing a campaign you will see that a HIV prevention campaign can help to prevent HIV and prevent stigma and discrimination.
Now we have evidence that YPLHIV involvement creates a difference, now it’s everybody’s responsibility to create the space where we feel safe to talk about our experiences and our ideas on how we can help other youth to be aware on HIV issues and how to prevent it, as well as how do we ensure universal access for those who are living with HIV.
If you are open enough to learn from other’s experiences, they will be open enough to learn from yours.
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(This article was written by Pablo Torres Aguilera, from Mexico, a member of the Global Network of People Living with HIV, Y+ Advisory Group)