HIV+ teens keen to speak at AIDS Conference
NORTHERN CAPE – Future leaders is a group of Kuruman youth living with HIV who have decided that they want to attend next year’s Aids Conference in Durban.
The group was founded in 2014 by Get Ready Information Services, an NGO funded by the National Department of Health to run programmes for people living with HIV in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district.
The group is for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 who usually meet at their local clinics to discuss issues affecting their lives and share their personal stories of how they live with HIV as kids and teens.
The group gathered at Marrick Farm in Kimberley recently to celebrate life and its challenges, presenting their journey through the year and sharing what they had learnt and what they hope to see in future.
Mpho, an 18-year-old girl in grade 11, told how she felt that the poor attitudes displayed by local health care workers are so bad that they could lead young people to default on their treatment.
Mpho – not real name – said she had an argument with one HIV counsellor who had given her the wrong date for the collection of her medication and then blamed her for not coming back on that date.
“Luckily I didn’t wait for my treatment to completely finish, but I decided to go back when I had tablets for three days left,” she said.
The Northern Cape Department of Social Development has agreed to apply for group members who will be 18 and older next year for scholarships to attend the Aids Conference.
The department also encouraged them to send their school reports to the department so that they can start applying for sponsors and bursaries.
“We all have a story to tell,” said Kabelo Komaetsile, an 18-year-old boy who was born with HIV.
“I think sharing our stories will help others growing up with HIV to understand the journey of being a child and living with HIV,” he said, explaining why he so badly wanted to attend the conference.
An edited version of this story was published by Health24.