Through plays, debates, games and quizzes, young Malawians are learning about ending the stigma of HIV
Jake* is 19. He found out he was HIV positive when an ad on the radio station he was listening to mentioned that the hospital he had been attending every month was a HIV/Aids hospital. “At first I was refusing to eat, stopped going to school, thought maybe I will die soon.”
Jake is one of a pretty unique sector of young people.
Those in his age group were the last to be born before medical advances reduced the chances of perinatally transmitted HIV from 25 per cent to less than 2 per cent, but still born late enough to benefit from antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), which hugely lengthen the expected lifespan of those infected.
Although Jake’s mother died from the virus she passed on to him during childbirth, he has survived. Along with all the other confusions that surround adolescence, he has had to come to terms with his diagnosis.
One-third of all those currently infected individuals are youth, aged between 15-24. Last Monday the World Health Organisation warned that governments were failing to provide adequate youth-specific services, something which has contributed to the 50 per cent increase in Aids-related deaths among 10-19 year olds between 2005 and 2012…