You can save the lives of children and young people.
AIDS is the biggest killer of young people in Africa. This is the only age group where AIDS deaths are rising. Many young people were born with HIV but never diagnosed. They have miraculously managed to survive into their teenage years without getting sick, but need to be tested and if positive put on treatment whilst they are still healthy. At the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we are determined to stop young people getting infected with HIV and making sure those who were sadly born with HIV get help so the virus isn’t spread any further.
20-year-old Loyce was 13 when she found out she was HIV positive. By the time she was nine, her mother, father and brother had all passed away. “When I was told I was HIV positive I was very angry and depressed and I cried that day. I blamed my mother and my father for my status, especially my father because he had three wives before my mother. I thought that he did it purposely for me to have HIV. I lost my confidence, I thought that I was not capable to do anything that any child could do.” Loyce moved in with her uncle and aunt, where she experienced emotional abuse and stigma because of her status. “They would say bad things about me, about my status, like my uncle – he would be outside the house and he would be shouting ‘You’re HIV positive, you have problems.’ I was going through emotional abuse… I thought of killing myself.”
Loyce’s life was turned around when she joined Zvandiri House, which is funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and implemented through a local not-for-profit organisation called Africaid.
With this new support, she was able to accept the news of her diagnosis, and she even reached out to others to encourage them to get tested and on treatment. At the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we know AIDS can be beaten, so we have launched an appeal called ‘Young Survivors’ to save the lives of 50,000 young people. Its impact will be most keenly felt by young women, as they are up to six times more likely to be infected during adolescence than boys. This then risks yet another generation being born HIV positive when these young women start having children.
Working with local partners in Zambia and Kenya, we aim to increase the number of young people between 15 and 19 who are getting tested for HIV and to link them to treatment, as well as offering counselling to HIV positive people and training health centres to offer adolescent-friendly services.
We need to raise £5 million to reach these 50,000 young people in Africa.
However, we can’t be the catalyst of this change without funding, and this is why we are seeking your support to make this happen.
We need you to become an advocate for the Young Survivors Appeal and help us to raise the £5 million we need to drive the programme forward.
With your help, the lives of 50,000 young people will be saved.
Can you make this vision a reality?