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Testimonies of HIV Positive Teens Effective amongst Teen Peers at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School, Kibera Slums-Nairobi

 

John is 17 years old, HIV positive and living positively. He has lived with the virus since childhood. He gladly shares about his life experiences living with the virus. Students at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School located in Kibera Slums in Nairobi are keen to listen to him. Most of the students identify with John’s life experiences. They are living positively with HIV virus. But they are shy from making their status public. Most of these students had parents living with HIV virus while some have lost their parents due to AIDS.

These students practically relate with John’s experience. John is their peer, one of their own speaking in a language they could easily connect with. John is our school’s HIV and AIDS Champion. He continues to empower other students to take charge of their lives and live responsibly. He gives them a reason to come out in the open and talk to their friends about HIV as he is doing, to embrace values of patience, integrity and abstinence.

Like many students at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in Kibera, John tested HIV virus through mother-to-child transmission during birth. But as he talks with students, he is aware of the many challenges they face such as early sex debut as a result of peer pressure, teenage pregnancies and increased new HIV infection amongst young adults. “…we now hear of teen parties held during school holidays where there is free flow of drugs, alcohol and sex. I hope that by speaking to my fellow peers, they will learn and be cautious” says John.

Teenagers living with HIV virus have proved effective when they share about HIV to their fellow teenagers. Their talks are becoming more effective than when these teenagers receive theoretical narratives about HIV and AIDS and its negative impact in the society.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School hopes to grow a group of brave students who are living HIV positive who could play a critical role by influencing behaviors of their peers through their life stories. Similarly, in the State of California USA Youthwave  (a group of HIV infected Youth) is visiting schools to tell their stories to get many youths to get tested for HIV and possibly live positively.