In a new film released today for World AIDS Day, vlogger Nia The Light shares her journey to learn what stigma really means for young people living with HIV.
It’s part of our Think Positive series with our partner, M·A·C AIDS Fund, and sees Nia meet young people in both the UK and South Africa, and spend time with health workers dedicated to making a real difference – making it easier for people to disclose their status, and educating communities in a bid to eradicate the stigma that so often stops people with HIV living the lives they choose.
Nia said: “I didn’t know a lot about HIV and stigma, I thought it killed and that isn’t true. It’s been really insightful to learn about things like the different medications to stop your kids from getting it or to protect your partner from getting it and just all those different things.”
She added: “As a kid I’ve always known about Comic Relief so to work with them is just amazing, especially now that I am able to use my own creative input and my love of Africa – it’s is such a blessing because I wouldn’t have been able to do that as a kid so I’m really grateful.”
Over the last few days, Comic Relief has been sharing stories from some of the young people that Nia met to shed light on the realities of HIV stigma for those living with the virus and address common myths that continue to fuel stigma and discrimination.
This includes Channan who has been supported by METRO and is passionate about supporting other young people living with HIV, especially when it comes to disclosing their status and building their confidence; Aviwe, who has been supported by mothers2mothers says she will not let her HIV status define her; and Speech, a youth reporter with Children’s Radio Foundation who is working to pass on all that he has learned to his peers about HIV.
Nia said: “It was nice speaking to Channan because I watched her films and saw how she creates content talking about HIV in an informal way, it’s so full of information to allow people to learn from her so I enjoyed that experience. I also enjoyed seeing what different communities are doing for people, creating a safe space for them to come together and just be in a room with people just like them and feel that sense of community that they wouldn’t feel in their day to day lives.”
We also launched our quiz which you can take to find out how much you know about HIV and the myths and misconceptions surrounding it.
It’s these myths and misconceptions that so often prevent people from getting tested and treated - and it shouldn’t be this way.
Together we can end stigma for good.
In 2017, Comic Relief and M∙A∙C AIDS Fund, the charitable arm of M∙A∙C Cosmetics, came together in a £2 million partnership to tackle HIV and AIDS. In partnership, they have provided grants to organisations working with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities across sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. Grants are focused on improving the quality of life of people living with HIV and AIDS, and funding innovative approaches to increase prevention, care and support, and access to treatment.