How Young Adults are Still Supported by Chiva
Sandra, aged 23, from the Midlands tells us why Chiva has benefitted her life from childhood through to adulthood, as she’s grown up living with HIV.
“I first heard about Chiva in hospital. One of the support workers and one of the nurses came with some leaflets about Chiva and said that there is a programme of support and for me to give it a go.
“They explained the advantages of going to Chiva camp. I went to camp three times when I was younger. I enjoyed every camp and I learned a lot. Each day has different activities; some are to do with HIV and others are to do with normal hobbies like football, netball and dancing. I’ve learned about living with HIV and how to be yourself, how to maintain yourself and about taking meds. I’ve kept in touch with people and made a best friend who I see every day.
“Being involved with Chiva has benefited me. It’s benefitted my life because I can go out there and express myself and teach others about this too.
“Even as an adult, I still benefit from support from Chiva. I have a Chiva Support Officer in my area who I can text or call every time I have a problem. It can be about anything, big or small, she doesn’t judge. She’s there to support me and tells me where to go to get the right sources of information. She helps me in a way that I can actually feel comfortable in asking again for support.
“I would totally recommend support from a Chiva Support Officer to other people living with HIV. They need to know that they’re not alone in this and that there is support out there. Chiva is not just about HIV, it’s about support in everything, no matter what it is. For example, there could be opportunities for counselling organised through Chiva. I would definitely recommend it to young adults.”
Young adults who have transitioned to adult HIV care can take on a Camp Leader volunteering role at Chiva’s annual residential camp for children living with HIV.
Ben, aged 19, a student from London tells us why it meant so much to him to be a Camp Leader this year.
“When I heard camp was still happening I had to get involved. It was exciting to come back to Chiva a few years after I’d come to camp myself and when I got there, it was just as I expected; full of energy and everyone was nice and welcoming.
“As camp leaders it’s a really good experience because it’s a professional role supervising the kids, for example helping them in workshops. We make sure they are getting involved and not shying away from things because it is a nerve-wracking experience if it’s your first time at camp. The experience helped me with my communication skills and I learned how to manage a group.
“There were a lot of educational topics and I even learned a lot myself about living with HIV and my medications. It’s like, wow, I can’t believe I never knew that.
“We need to gain knowledge about what we are living with so if we get into a situation where we are discriminated against, we can educate that person about it so they change their view. It’s given me more confidence because I know I’ve got that information.
“It made me feel like HIV is something I shouldn’t be scared to talk about because in that space it is very comfortable. It helped me understand how to communicate with partners if I get into a relationship.
“Anyone else my sort of age with HIV, I would definitely say they should be a Camp Leader because you learn a lot about yourself, you challenge yourself. You’d be amazed how interesting these kids are. It’s so nice to talk to them.
“Don’t think about it, just do it.”
See the full list of opportunities available to young adults who have transitioned to adult HIV care in the leaflet here. If you would like to put any of your patients in touch with Chiva contact us on: 0117 9055149 / [email protected].