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 [Children and Families Project Worker] Lynne, 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.