Reflecting on BHIVA 2024: Promoting Peer Support and Acknowledging Excellence

In April, our Services Manager Lineo, and two of our Trustees, Amanda and Katie, represented Chiva at the BHIVA annual conference in Birmingham, where the HIV community came together to share insights, innovations, and advancements in the field. Among the collection of discussions and presentations across the week, two notable outcomes emerged: a spotlight on the importance of peer support, as well as a recognition of HIV advocacy for one of Chiva’s trustees, Katie Warburton.

Peer support has long been recognised as essential in HIV care and it’s at the heart of Chiva’s work. At BHIVA 2024, there was an emphasis on harnessing the capabilities of peer networks to empower individuals living with HIV. Workshops and sessions highlighted the transformative impact of peer support in fostering resilience, reducing stigma, and improving adherence to treatment. The collective and shared experiences within these networks offer a unique source of strength and solidarity for those in treatment, reaffirming the impact of peer support and its effectiveness in HIV care and advocacy.

One of Chivas’  highlights of the conference was the recognition of our Trustee for their outstanding contribution to the field. Katie Warburton won the BHIVA Chloe Orkin Award for best oral abstract presentation. The presentation shed light on best practice when it comes to naming HIV to those children who are growing up living with it. 

This included the importance of using factual language which avoids anything abstract such as ‘goodies/baddies’ or ‘bugs’. This is essential in shaping children’s perceptions and experiences of the virus. By allowing young people to reclaim the narrative and encouraging person-centred language in clinics, we not only affirm the humanity of those affected by HIV but also challenge misconceptions that continue to perpetuate stigma.

Reflecting on Chiva’s experience at the BHIVA conference, it’s clear that our collective efforts must continue to extend beyond conference halls. We must continue to champion peer support initiatives and advocate for inclusive language in all aspects of HIV discourse. By amplifying the voices of those directly affected by HIV and fostering a culture of empathy and understanding, we can create a more compassionate and equitable world for all.