Jacob* first came to our BBC Children in Need-funded Poz Youth group when he was a first year in school. The group helped him develop the self-confidence to live well with HIV and now he is giving something back…
When did you first find out you were living with HIV?
I was in first year at school. I remember watching the film, Team America. Near the start there’s a parody of the musical RENT, where they sing a song called Everyone Has AIDS. I remember finding it funny. My mum sat me down and explained that I was living with HIV.
I was a kid who’d been going to hospital for years and I didn’t really understand why. Then everything just clicked.
Do you remember how you felt when you first found out?
I kind of accepted it. I knew I was healthy and that I’d be fine, but also that I could get sick if I didn’t keep taking my medication. I never got scared of that side of it though.
What have been the main challenges of living with HIV?
Things around relationships have been quite difficult – particularly telling friends. Only a couple of friends know. I feel like they’re people I can trust.
Even though I feel comfortable about living with HIV, I’ve never thought there was any point in telling everyone – they don’t need to know.
When did you first come into contact with Waverley Care?
It was around the same time I found out I was living with HIV. I can’t remember exactly how it came about, but it was the hospital that put us in touch.
I met Lynne (who worked for our Children and Families Project), she came to my house and she’s been there for me ever since.
Do you remember the first time you came along to Poz Youth?
I remember everyone being older than me. At first, it felt a little intimidating – I was just thinking ‘what is this?’ It went away quickly though once I got to know people.
What do you feel you’ve got out of being involved in the group?
I’d say confidence, and accepting who I am. Through the group I’ve met lots of people and I realised that everyone finds their own way to cope. I don’t want HIV to be a burden.
Is there a particular memory of the group that sticks out?
Lynne helped get me into a camp in England called Freedom 2 Be [which is organised by the Children’s HIV Association]. I met people from across the UK who I’m still in touch with to this day.
You recently organised a song-writing workshop for the group, how was that?
It was a great experience. At first they were a little shy but by the end they were all into it.
Everyone had words they wanted to share and we scrambled them about over a beat to make lyrics. It really helped people open up – they were saying things that they would never have thought to say otherwise.
Do you think moving forward you might want to work with young people?
Absolutely. It was a really inspiring experience – teaching them something new and giving them that experience. At the same time, I was learning about myself and what I can do to help people. I know that living with HIV can be stressful but I feel like I can be someone they can talk to.
You have a qualification in sound engineering and are studying music business – how’s that going?
Really well! The course covers a lot of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the business from management and promotion to health and safety.
I’d love to start my own company managing and promoting local artists in Glasgow. I don’t feel we have that at the moment and I want to help people who represent this city.
Away from your studies, what do you like to do with your spare time?
Music’s my passion. I spend time with friends who like to make music. I want to help them record and support them at gigs. That’s why I want to learn – to work with people I know and help them develop.
Who is the biggest influence in your life?
I guess from a business perspective, I’d say Jay-Z. I like how he started out and where he is now, owning his own streaming company and label. He represents his city – I want to represent mine. *Name has been changed to protect individual’s privacy.