Across the UK and Ireland there are around 1000 children and young people living with HIV. This is a marginalised, stigmatised and isolated group. Many live in poverty, have suffered multiple bereavements and live in houses where their siblings or other family members don’t know they have HIV.
These young people have to manage a life limiting illness which they are unable to talk about due to society’s response to HIV, so very often their school, friends and extended family may not know they are HIV positive.
The CHIVA Support Camp offers a unique opportunity of a critical mass of up to 100 HIV positive young people together in one place for 5 days. It brings the most isolated of this group together from all parts of the country so they can meet others, share experiences, build friendships and learn more about living well with HIV. Rather than hiding HIV, attendees are encouraged to talk openly about it and there are camp leaders and volunteers at camp who are also HIV positive and act as role models and mentors.
Camp is a rite-of-passage experience that CHIVA believes all HIV positive young people in the UK and Ireland should have the chance to attend at least once. The young people get the chance to build lasting friendships and support to see them through their next stage in life.