The Positive Youth Project: Better Health for Youth Living with HIV

December 19 2017 11:13am
Thank you to the Canada Post Community Foundation for their $15,000 gift empowering, connecting, and engaging HIV+ youth in Canada.

BC Women’s Foundation is excited to announce a $15,000 gift from the Canada Post Community Foundation in support of BC Women’s Positive Youth Project. This program is in partnership with BC Women’s Hospital’s Oak Tree Clinic and YouthCO, designed to engage HIV+ youth in their medical care through positive social reinforcement and leadership opportunities.

The stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV/AIDS is very real and can be very isolating.

At an age when risk-taking behaviour is at its peak, it’s crucial to foster belonging and self-esteem amongst young people living with HIV/AIDS. Supporting youth in this way counters internalized stigma and contributes to better medication adherence.

The Oak Tree Clinic at BC Women’s Hospital provides inter-professional HIV care for women, infants, and youth. It is the only centre in Canada where youth are offered a full continuum of HIV care as they transition from pediatric to adult care. As a global pioneer in the provision of HIV care, not one HIV positive mother fully treated by Oak Tree’s drug regimen has given birth to an HIV+ baby in 17 years, and no child receiving treatment for HIV has died in BC since 1996.

YouthCO is a local organization that seeks to empower HIV affected youth with knowledge, community, and support. Their staff is young, inclusive, and experts at leading educational and harm-reduction programs “for youth, by youth”.  Their online platform is a trusted source of current HIV/AIDS knowledge and a virtual space for HIV+ youth to connect with and support each other wherever they may live.

The Positive Youth Project brings these two entities together, giving HIV+ youth the unique opportunity to connect with their peers and educators at YouthCO. Motivated HIV+ youth leaders will encourage participation and plan creative recreational activities that happen every two months for over twenty youth. Young leaders will have opportunities for capacity development and leadership training. In addition, youth will have access to an online networking portal will be will link an estimated 500+ youth living with HIV/AIDS from across the nation.

We are enthusiastic that this project will promote healthier outcomes for youth living with HIV – helping them to acquire desperately needed tools, resources, and knowledge.

We are very grateful to the Canada Post Community Foundation for their commitment to creating transformational change in the lives of youth to lead socially connected healthy lives with HIV, rather than be defined by HIV.