They were able to gain an insight into the realities of Living with HIV globally and the stark similarities adolescents face across the world growing up with HIV in regards to difficulty with transition, adherence, disclosure, and stigma to name a few.  

Two of our CHIVA Youth Committee Members attended their first International AIDS Conference un July, held in Durban, South Africa. Conferences on this scale can often be an exciting but daunting week; delegates from around the world sharing their expertise and learning what is happening globally in relation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. One strong theme that was present throughout the conference was the importance of Meaningful Engagement of young people globally in the fight against HIV and moving closer to achieving an AIDS free generation by 2030. The CHIVA Youth Committee attended a workshop facilitated by the Adolescent Treatment Coalition, which highlighted the importance of Young People feeling empowered, equipped and confident to create and accept opportunities of engagement in order to truly be leading the way.  This continued as a theme throughout the conference and during the breakout session the young people spoke with great confidence about their work on the CHIVA Youth Committee and the models CHIVA uses to ensure their meaningful engagement on a local level, including their successes of engaging MP's at the Houses of Parliament in a schools campaign last year. The youth committee also spent a lot of time in the Global Village which is described as an area of 'Noise, theatrical discussions, and a hub of networking and exchanging ideas'. When in the Global Village they met with delegates and young people living with HIV from across the globe including Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa and Australia. It was during these moments they were able to gain an insight into the realities of Living with HIV globally and the stark similarities adolescents face across the world growing up with HIV in regards to difficulty with transition, adherence, disclosure, and stigma to name a few.  

The importance of our youth committee was evident to see as they shared their knowledge and expertise using their own experiences. They also learnt what methods other countries such as South Africa were using to make clinics more youth friendly and how they could learn from each other.  One Key highlight of the week was the youth committee meeting with Prince Harry, having previously met young people from his charity Sentabale.  They were able to feedback the similarities in their experiences and also highlight to him that stigma in the UK is still a huge problem and difficulty. Prince Harry understood this and listened attentively to each of their stories. He then remarked on how the stigma was also discouraging young people from testing and how through more people talking about HIV we can normalize testing.  Now back in the UK – no time to stop as next week is our biggest young peoples event of the year- over 80 young people with HIV attend a residential support camp over 5 days. Updates on how that went to follow next month.