Meet The Teens Fighting HIV Around The World
Some of them have pretty harrowing stories.
At MTV we’re big on stamping out HIV once and for all. Enter: the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, which gives grants to young people around the world who have come up with their own super inspiring HIV prevention initiatives.
Check out what Courtney Act has to say about safer sex...
Although HIV and AIDS can seem like intimidating or taboo topics (another reason we all need to talk about them more), MTV Staying Alive grantees always know how to broach them in fun, creative ways. Let’s meet some of them…
Victor and Lily (MAAYGO - Men Against AIDS Youth Group, Kenya)
Victor and Lily Simon, a young gay man and transwoman from Kisumu in Kenya, are the founders of MAAYGO. Lily dropped out of school and ran away from home because she was discriminated against by everyone around her who thought she had demons inside her, making her like ‘lady things’. Victor is a sex worker who reported being raped but was met only with hostility and abuse from the police.
“People tend to rape us as a corrective measure. They think if they rape you they will correct you so that you will be manly, or be straight” – Lily.
As one in five men who have sex with men in Kisumu in Kenya (where they’re based) is HIV-positive, and many of them aren’t able to get help from health services because of all the stigma and discrimination attached to homosexuality, they decided to set up MAAYGO. MAAYGO teaches young locals about STIs and HIV prevention, and broadcasts HIV prevention messaging over local radio as well. It also offers counselling and HIV testing at night, so that people who feel ashamed or embarrassed can go along in private.
MAAYGO’s given safe sex info, HIV testing, and counselling to more than 1000 people to date. That’s pretty life-saving, life-changing stuff.
Mohita and Abhinav (Dove Foundation, India)
Mohita and Abhinav co-founded the Dove Foundation, which focuses on rickshaw pullers in northern India. Rickshaw pullers are often from rural areas but travel to cities to make money and are away from their families for long periods of time. They’re often drawn into a lifestyle of visiting brothels, having unprotected sex and injecting drugs. And with unprotected sex and injecting drugs using shared needles comes a MUCH higher risk of contracting HIV.
“The problem they’re having is they don’t know their rights, they don’t have any educational background… they’re the most neglected community in our society” – Mohita
So what does the Dove Foundation do? It teaches other young people all about HIV, so that they’re able to spread the knowledge rickshaw pullers need to protect themselves far and wide, as peer educators. It even puts on street theatre, getting all the facts across through good old entertainment.
The best part is that, since 2011, the Dove Foundation has been able to directly reach more than 10,000 rickshaw pullers, train almost 800 peer educators to spread those HIV prevention messages, and give out 22,500 condoms. All because of Mohita and Abhinav’s amazing work. YAAS.
David and Wole (U-CARE, Nigeria)
When David and Wole were at university together, they realised that no-one around campus actually knew much about HIV, despite it being a huge problem in the area. So they set up a small student group, to actually do something about it.
“We said we cannot let this be, because the next generation of young people is gonna be in very serious trouble” - David
They brought HIV testing to the students via outreach events, so that they could all find out their HIV status and get advice and info from professionals, and they did all of it in as fun and entertaining way as possible. They put on screenings of MTV Shuga, the behaviour-changing (and addictive) teen drama that the MTV Staying Alive Foundation makes and distributes, containing important sexual health messaging.
They then expanded from university and went into a local brothel to teach the sex workers there about how to use condoms safely, and now the brothel is safe sex only – allowing NO clients to get away with not using protection. SUCCESS.
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