Fourteen young people aged 13 to 23 met up in Cardiff in February. Participants talked about how in the main, they felt they had accepted their own HIV and that it didn't bother them very much. Participants expressed that any negativity they felt about living with HIV was more to do with not being able to talk about HIV at home, with parents or carers:
'I feel fine but my family can’t talk about it. We came to the CHIVA family conference last year and that was great, but after that everything were backwards’
There was a session with Lisa Cordery, Specialist Community Public Health Nurse and Team Leader for the Switched On Substance Misuse Service and Cardiff Health Youth Board. Lisa did an awareness session about risky behaviours, drugs and alcohol, with a focus on cannabis. Feedback about this was very good with most young people saying they learnt a lot. Participants talked about how in their experience it was much easier and cheaper to access illegal drugs than alcohol.
The main activity was an ‘Escape Room’ style exercise designed and facilitated by CHIVA Associate Camilla Gordon. The young people had to solve a number of clues all relating to HIV/sexual health/drugs and alcohol/general health that were linked to hidden information around the room. They had to use morse code as well as solve an HIV knowledge crossword.
A current member of our youth committee and another of our participants, had a conversation about their HIV, as part of the BBC Wales Live series. Click here to view the article.
9 members of the CYC met in Surrey for a weekend residential in November. We welcomed new members and enjoying getting to know each other. As one of our new members is deaf we all learnt a lot of British Sign Language and will continue to do this at each meeting.
We had an incredibly productive weekend- these are some of the things we discussed: Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights with a visitor from Brook, the NHS Service Specification for Paediatric HIV (and the group’s views on the Key Performance Indicators), the International HIV and AIDS Conference taking place in 2020, the upcoming CHIVA Conferences and what the CYC wants to tell the audiences, a CHIVA Acceptable Use Policy for smart phones during Young People’s meetings and residentials, CHIVA Camp, and the latest Youth Stop AIDS Campaigns.
We also spoke with the newly appointed CYC Youth Advocacy Coordinator about different events he has attended recently on behalf of the CYC and took part in a focus group about clinic attendance with Marthe from the MRC. We also appointed a new chairperson and deputy and they will be introduced at the conferences.
All in all it was a whirlwind of discussions and activities along with some dancing and archery! We are very grateful to all the young people for their hard work.
The CYC met at camp and had a lively meeting. They were joined by CHIVA Exec Member Elaine Pearson and talked about possible youth-led funding applications they could work on together. The CYC would like to look for funding to hold a large peer support and social meeting to bring together young people who are now too old to attend CHIVA Camp.
The meeting also looked at CYC recruitment for 2019-2020. There were 15 applications for the 4 CYC vacancies. It was really difficult to make the decisions between the applicants and some people had written some very powerful messages about why they wanted to join the CYC.
The 4 successful applicants were announced during the ceremony to mark 10 years of camp and were invited onto the stage to greet their fellow CYC members. The 4 departing members were given small gifts as we said goodbye.