Sunday, March 1, 2009

HIV+ Aussie Kids Part 2

There was so much this young woman spoke about, things you and I would take for granted in our everyday lives, that she needed to hide or do differently.
On a school camp she secretly took her medications in the bathroom because all drugs had to be assigned to the teachers to administer and no one was allowed to possess any medication whatsoever.
Asthmatics, diabetics, ADHD, epileptics - these kids all have their medications administered by teachers every day without anyone batting an eyelid or breaching the students privacy.
But kids have had to be responsible for their life-saving medication because of the fear of stigma and discrimination.
She was honest with one school principal and told her about her HIV status; the principal was horrified and told her she had 2 choices - either inform the entire school and school community or get out.
She got out.
Hmmm, seems privacy policies only apply to those who aren't HIV+.

But I don't want to make it sound all doom and gloom; the interviewee was anything but!
She was a well-spoken young woman who, in her short life, has addressed adults in huge conferences, people in other countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS who have never met someone who has been HIV+ since birth.
She has helped shape and form some of the resources and support networks that have been lacking until now that I mentioned in my previous post.
She has a healthy relationship with her parents, her siblings and her HIV+ boyfriend.
She did make a comment about feeling that she couldn't look outside of the HIV+ world for a boyfriend, that to ask someone, who has no idea about what is involved in living with HIV, to commit to a relationship is impossible and unfair.
She has a group of close friends she has made on camps, people she's met through conferences, talks, and the like. She commented about watching what she says or discusses with her school friends as opposed to how open she can be with her friends who are also HIV+.
At some time in the future she may consider having children, something she will have counselling for and something she and her partner will need to discuss at length.
This was a woman who, despite having to hide her identity and her status due to media hype and rubbish, had matured beyond her years, was far more adult in her handling of the situation of the principal and who is a very strong and resilient woman.
I was damn impressed with her and the parents who raised such a well-balanced young lady.


  1. There's still a great deal of ignorance about HIV and how it's spread...but you'd think that teachers would know better.

    Then again, perhaps not.

  2. Bless this young woman for being brave enough to speak out for not only herself, but for others.

    May we hope that the ignorance dies one day.

  3. You'd expect them to know better, Brian, but some are more ignorant than a lump of wood.

    She was very articulate, Anja, and the interviewer knew her personally so she was quite at ease during the chat.

  4. Missed it. Will check if it is a podcast. Not really something I have thought about of late.

  5. Was on Allegro Non Troppo, Andrew, should be a podcast available sometime soon, although it wasn't Addam doing the show so might be delayed upload, not sure.