40 years into the HIV pandemic, there have been immense advances in the availability and access to effective HIV prevention methods, HIV testing options, simplified, effective Antiretroviral treatment regimens; and ever advancing laboratory capabilities. Yet despite these advances, depression, anxiety, trauma and suicide continue to increase among adolescents living with HIV, driven by their experiences of stigma in their homes, schools, clinics and communities.
As young people at Zvandiri we were invited on two separate occasions to share our voices on stigma. For the first event led by WHO and the International Council of Nurses, Zvandiri youth produced a film in which we shared our experiences of stigma in healthcare settings and how we think services could be improved.
The Zvandiri youth then produced a second video for presentation at the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB). This time we shared our experiences of HIV-related stigma in schools
Our message is clear – we need love and kindness, to be valued and respected, and treated just like anyone else.