Life as a Teenager with HIV
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Paul*, 16, is HIV positive and has been coming to a Save the Children-supported hospital for several years to receive his treatments. Both of his parents died of HIV when he was young, and he doesn't tell his friends at school about his illness.
He lives in South Sudan with his grandmother, aunt, 17-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother who is also HIV positive. Paul* has been receiving anti retro-viral treatment at a Save the Children supported hospital for the past 7 years to fight the virus. His tests suggest that he is taking his medication well and that the virus is well under control.
Paul* said: “I have been taking the drugs to make me better since I was young. I have to take tablets every day to make sure I do not get sick. I don’t feel sick very often — I just get a headache when there is too much heat. I am able to do all the things my friends do, like play football.
“None of the other children at school know about my illness. I don’t tell them about it because I worry I would be denied by my friends. I never talk about it. I only worry about the future when I am insulted and someone makes fun of me. Some people in my neighborhood know about my illness. My aunt sometimes insults me. She says ‘Your mother has died. Go and look for another place to stay’.
HIV and AIDS-infected youth like Paul* face both fear and discrimination. Fortunately, Save the Children workers are there for Paul*, lending there expertise and support while helping educate Paul’s family, friends and community.
Save the Children works across 4 continents in 22 countries to create a world in which children and families can live free of HIV infection and in which children who are affected by HIV and AIDS — children just like Paul* — can live positively and productively without stigma and discrimination.
“I am close to my brother. My brother always advises me about how to take care of myself. I like all of the nurses at the hospital. They give me the medicine to make me better,” Paul* says. As a young child infected with HIV, Paul* had the odds stacked against him. But today, thanks to the generosity of donors like you, Paul is receiving the health, nutritional and emotional support he needs to thrive and pursue his dreams.