Alliance funding supports Poz Youth project

There was great news for our Poz Youth project this month with the announcement of funding to support young people living with HIV as they move into adulthood.

The funding from Alliance Scotland will allow us to deliver a series of self-management sessions and peer support, designed by and for young people living with HIV aged 19-30.

The project has grown out of our work with young people, and what they have told us about the challenges they face as they move into adulthood.

Many of the young people we work with tell us that they’ve struggled to come to terms their HIV diagnosis, as they try to live normal lives and cope with all the challenges of adolescence. Often, they say they can’t accept, or don’t feel they have enough information about their diagnosis, and struggle to maintain treatment, with impacts for their health.

The challenge of living with a highly stigmatised condition also has a significant impact on mental health – with many young people talking about feeling isolated, impacting their confidence and self-esteem and making it difficult for them to form relationships.

Many of these challenges are then magnified as young people move from child healthcare services, where they are familiar with the staff and settings, into adult services. As a result, young people are often more reluctant to engage with services, with further impacts on their wellbeing.

Through the new funding, we’ll bring together a steering group of young people to help develop self-management sessions where young people can learn and develop skills to help overcome these challenges and make good choices about their sexual health. We’ll also help to train some young people as peer mentors, who can use their own experiences of living with HIV to support others who have either just learned of, or just been diagnosed.

The feedback from these sessions will not only provide benefits to the young people involved, but will also give a valuable insight into the experiences of young people living with HIV as they approach adulthood. We will be looking to share the findings of this work with partners in the NHS and elsewhere to help them address the barriers that can prevent young people from staying well.

If you would like to find out more about the self-management project, or our BBC Children in Need funded Poz Youth service, you can contact our Children and Families Project Worker, Lynne Williamson.