Meet the charities Charity updates CHIVA May 2016 For the 3rd meet up of the year our peer support group for children with HIV in Wales chose to go canoeing in the Brecon Beacons. It was a fun trip and the sun even shone for some of it! Unfortunately the weather was not kind to us during the last 30 minutes on the water and we all got thoroughly soaked! We had a new member join the group who has recently been diagnosed with HIV, he is 17. This day was planned as a fun day out and a break from any stresses and strains at home, and as always an opportunity for conversations around HIV, which for many young people don’t happen outside of clinic. CHIVA staff were able to have some one to one time with a young person who has recently told a close friend about his HIV, and explore with him how this went. After the canoeing we took some time to have a group discussion about the benefits of meeting up as a group of young people living with HIV. For the next meet up the group would like to explore other’s experiences of telling friends or partners about their HIV. This is something young people growing up with HIV describe as most challenging, because of the fear that they will be rejected by people who are close to them, as they may not understand HIV. But there is a huge pressure on young people who feel they have to keep their HIV hidden from people in their lives. This is why you won’t see photos of young people’s faces in our updates. 27th May was a big day for CHIVA our national conference! This is an important event that brings health care and voluntary sector professionals together for an educational day to share and explore the needs of children growing up with HIV. It’s an opportunity for latest research to be disseminated, for updates on new medicines and medical trials, which all aim to improve treatment and care of children who grow up with HIV. But the highlight of the day for all is always the contribution of the CHIVA Youth Committee. A group of 12 young people who have grown up with HIV. They are involved with all of our work, including our national conference. They provide us with ideas for themes to shape the conference and take platforms throughout the day to share with the audience what their concerns and priorities are. This platform provides a unique opportunity for young patients to have integral involvement in shaping and influencing their own clinical care. We are very proud of their achievements as these opportunities are really important to support their empowerment and develop their confidence to explain what they need and what matters to them. May is a busy month and next week, straight after conference, we have our camp volunteer training programme, in preparation for our big young peoples event of the year- our residential summer support camp! More news on this next month.