What we've been up to this month:

At the end of half term, we took away a group of 9 to 13 year old girls. Half had never met other children with HIV.

The journey there was quiet. One girl described feeling like she wanted to get off the bus and go home, she was so nervous. Towards the end of the journey, two participants started to talk. They remained close throughout the weekend. They were overhead saying: ‘I always wanted a little sister’ and ‘I always wanted a big sister.’

Children with HIV often have questions they find difficult to ask, both in clinic and to their families. CHIVA residentials create an atmosphere that allows them to talk about HIV. To ask about what they don’t understand. To alleviate their fears.

After supper and before settling down to a movie the first evening, there was a discussion session. Some questions the girls asked:

‘Will I have it for life?’

‘How did HIV get discovered?’

‘What is AIDS?’

‘Will you die if you get AIDS?’

‘How does HIV get into CD4 cells?’

The morning session focused on living well with HIV. And crucially, how to tell friends when you are ready.

One girl described it like this:

‘I told my best friend. It was like a giant on your shoulders and them jumping off. Then you hear the giant creeping away’. 

The girls spent time writing poems and creating resources that explained how HIV affects the body, transmission and how medicine works.

This is what our support weekends are about. Getting children comfortable talking about their HIV. Getting them confident in their knowledge. And helping them to build supportive friendships.