From July 17, 2016 to July 22, 2016 RIATT-ESA advocated for the needs of children and adolescents at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), in Durban South Africa. During the AIDS 2016 conference RIATT-ESA provided a learning opportunity for 10 young people living with or affected by HIV to attend to conference. These young people came together to discuss the emerging evidence and how the HIV responses are being tailored to the needs of the youth in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Continuation of the youth highlights from AIDS 2016 Nothing About Us with Out Us- Messages from the youth (Part 1)
Busisiwe Shangase, 23 years old, from South Africa- I work at the Denis Hurley Centre in Usizo Lwethu clinic which means ‘our help’ in isiZulu; we provide outreach basic health care offsite where we go to the poorest communities. Many of the homelessness and substance abusers are the HIV positive youth.
My experience at the conference was very informative, the energy and the information was great. It was interesting to note that going to a clinic for treatment, and waiting in long queues is a problem that leads to non-adherence all over the place. AIDS is no-more a secret, people should understand this, information is there, treatment is there.
Samkelo Duma, 17 years old, from South Africa- I was given the chance to attend the international AIDS conference in Durban in 2016 by WhizzKids United, through a RIATT-ESA scholarship. There I learned so much especially in the programs and youth discussion which were held at the conferences.
In the youth discussion we talked about how to live a healthy life and how to help others to live a healthy live. We also discussed how we can be a part of the fight against HIV and AIDS in our country. We discuss how we can help others to take their treatment every day, and the different barriers to adherence. After attending the AIDS conferences my aim is to help the community with the information I got there.
Leander Jasper, 17 years old, from South Africa- At the 2016 International AIDS conference I engaged in multiple talks where I was able to learn from people from certain professions and nationalities, and gain a better understanding of different views and opinions of stigmatized topics. I used to think all sex workers were poor and uneducated but discovered this is not so. I was impressed by the way they stood up for their rights.
The atmosphere at the opening ceremony truly was amazing, it showed different people’s dedication to the AIDS response.
Sinenhlanhla Maphumulo, 22 years old, from South Africa- The International AIDS conference 2016 was a self-development opportunity for me, I got to familiarise myself with the things going on globally, interact with different people from different organisations. It was a very educational experience.
The one thing that stood out to me was that most of the research, programmes, and new information around HIV is shared amongst scientists, politicians, legislator and not getting to people whom are really affected by this HIV. If we want to achieve the End of AIDS, we need to get the information where it is really needed. At the conference much of the terminology used in the sessions and in most pamphlets, you needed dictionary or access to internets so you can google to understand them. Information needs to be simplified, for those who are affected by HIV. I believe the future is the youth and children, so method we come up with to END AIDS needs to be user friendly, and developed for the youth.
The AIDS conference made me want to be more of an activist. It also helped me with my personal fears, as my mother has been diagnosed with HIV and I had always had the fear of her dying. But now I know that she is like me just that she needs to be cautious with her health.
I am very grateful to RIATT-ESA for such opportunity and hope that young people may get more of these opportunities, than maybe that way we won’t be oppressed by this disease by 2030.