Being a teenager is tough. Growing up with all the pressures of education, relationships and becoming an adult can be overwhelming. But what about the 1,000 young people in the UK that are living with HIV?
So often, teenagers living with HIV in the UK find themselves isolated, alone and unable to discuss their status with their friends for fear of rejection or discrimination. The feeling of having to conceal your status can lead to not keeping up with medication or attending hospital checkups.
To help tackle this, the Elton John AIDS Foundation supported a 5-day residential camp for over 100 HIV positive teenagers this summer. Bringing together 13-17 year olds from all over the country each year, the camp provides an opportunity to meet other young people, increase self-esteem and improve understanding of how to live well with HIV. One attendee of this year’s camp stated that it:
“Gave me a chance to break from the outside world and really connect with my inner emotions”
By taking part in group discussions around HIV disclosure, rights and awareness, young people are empowered to open up about their status. Confidence boosting activities such as outward bound courses, film making classes and art workshops are also available over the course of the residential. Another young person spoke about how the experience has improved their self-esteem:
“I have the ability to be social, be open to learning new things and push myself to do what I once said I couldn’t do.”
At the Foundation, we believe that only by making sure that no one is left behind can we get closer to achieving an AIDS free future. Through your support of projects like the residential, we are able to give young people the chance to understand their HIV status and live a long and healthy life. If you want to be kept up to date about projects like this, sign up for our email newsletter below.