There are recommendable advances in HIV/AIDS since it was discovered in the 1980s. This has made it possible to reduce the number of new HIV infections and help people infected with the virus to live happy healthy lives with the right medication.
Even so, AIDS is reported to be the second biggest killer among the young people. This is attributed to lack of proper information on the virus as well as low numbers of people who actually know their HIV status.
But all is not lost as a group of young people living with HIV are being vocal and what more can be done to help salvage the situation. The young people are campaigners from Youth Stop AIDS.
Challenges Surrounding People Living with HIV
Despite the young people giving their different accounts of how they contracted the virus, they all agree on one thing: there is still a lot of stigma surrounding people living with HIV. This stigma may come in various forms one of them being pressure to disclose how they contracted HIV.
They expressed their disappointment when expectant women are not required to share how they got pregnant but people living with HIV are constantly being pressured to reveal how they got the virus some of which may be painful experiences.
- Lack of Confidence in Relationships
This is intertwined with stigmatization where people living with HIV are not confident enough to date or look for life partners because of their HIV status. Some of the young people expressed their lack of desire to be in relationships with other people because that will mean they will have to disclose their HIV status which they are not that confident to talk about. The situation is made worse if the person they hope to talk to knows very little or nothing at all on the virus.
- Lack of Funding on Drugs
Some of the young people in the group mentioned about the lack of government funding for drugs that could help reduce new infections. The drug in question, PrEP, is given to people who are at a high risk of contracting HIV and helps to prevent contraction of the virus. However, some governments are yet to fully support the implementation and use of the drug. HIV PEP is also used post exposure circumstances.
Recommendations on How to Combat HIV
The individuals in the group themselves are campaigning by speaking out to help others like them to have better lives and prevent others from becoming like them. Having experienced with the virus first hand, they have the following recommendations to prevent new cases of HIV cases.
- Government Funding
The young people are urging governments to provide more funds towards reducing HIV infections. They suggest that the funds could be put to good use by providing access to medication to those who are already living with HIV. In addition, the recommend the implementation of the use of PrEP in countries that are yet to introduce the drug.
- Education on HIV
The number one challenge that the young people expressed through their different experiences is stigmatization. They therefore urge the governments as well as other agencies to create platforms that educate the public on everything about HIV. This includes encouraging young people to go for HIV testing and find out their HIV status for necessary measures to be taken. The young people also advocate for governments to create dedicated programs focused on HIV/AIDS.
HIV is still a big societal issue and to see young people giving their voice on the matter is encouraging. We do hope that governments world over will hear what these youths have to say and help fight HIV.