Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Teenagers living with HIV show what life’s like in their shoes


A still from Undefeated

Next Sunday thousands of HIV activists, politicians and professionals will gather in Washington DC to assess the global state of the pandemic, advances in treatment and care, and assert their collective vision for the future.

That Aids 2012, the 19th international Aids conference, is being held in Washington is particularly resonant. Until Barack Obama overturned a 22-year-old ban in 2009, people living with HIV were denied entry to the US.

The prevalence of HIV in the city itself is also astonishing – not only is it the highest HIV rate in America, it is one of the highest in the world, rivalling areas of sub-Saharan Africa. While HIV is often associated with specific regions, the reality is that it is a global pandemic, with its profound impact felt globally, including in the UK.

In some areas of our country, especially London, HIV prevalence rates are higher than in countries more regularly associated with the epidemic such as Thailand, and UK rates continue to rise. Although medication to control the virus is readily accessible, one in four people living with HIV are not aware that they have the virus, and those who are often contend with poverty, social isolation and the impact of the stigma surrounding the condition – a stigma that is still active in workplaces, communities and schools.

A group of young people living with the condition from the London-based HIV charity Body & Soul are very aware of the impact of HIV and stigma. They will be taking their own brand of activism and a much-needed youth perspective to the conference.

Since 1996, Body & Soul has been a trailblazer in providing bespoke psychosocial support to children, teenagers and families living with HIV. We have built a community of members who inspire and support one another in a safe space. It’s a place where they can share hopes and anxieties as well as accessing diverse professional support, from counselling to CV workshops, legal advice, sex and relationships discussions and parenting forums.

Body & Soul’s expertise in working with young people living with HIV led to the development in 2011 of its campaign Life in my Shoes (Lims), which will be the focus of the group’s activities in Washington. It is a pioneering project that they hope will engender empathy among all young people (not just those personally affected by HIV), encouraging them to accept and embrace difference.

Lims is a sophisticated multiplatform campaign boasting a short film, photographs shot by Rankin and endorsements from the likes of Annie Lennox, Dr Christian Jessen and Blake Harrison of The Inbetweeners. When the educational resource central to the campaign is launched later this year, students will take part in classes that are engaging and informative.

Miles away from uncomfortable sex education lessons, these sessions will inspire young people to improve their knowledge of HIV while promoting increased understanding of life in one another’s shoes.

The centrepiece of Lims is Undefeateda 35-minute film charting a day in the shoes of a London schoolgirl, and drawing directly from experiences of members of Teen Spirit, Body & Soul’s group for 13-to-19-year-olds affected by HIV. Premiered in May at the Cannes film festival, it will be screened in Washington, allowing their message of empathy to reach beyond UK audiences.

The film shows the secrecy and courage demanded from such young people. For Peter, one of the Lims ambassadors attending the conference, this is why the campaign is so powerful and why it has the potential to inspire change.

“At school, I’d overhear people joking about catching Aids or worrying they’d get HIV from kissing,” he says. “I’d want to correct them but worried I’d be giving away my own status by doing so. For thousands of young people in the UK, we’ve already begun the process of changing minds and attitudes, and I can’t wait to start spreading the Lims message internationally.”

The conference theme of Aids 2012 is “Turning the tide together”. Peter and the others travelling to Washington hope to be at the forefront of a movement that seeks to transform attitudes and inspire change in the UK, and globally.

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Young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People face discrimination and negativity

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new poll commissioned by METRO suggests that despite huge strides towards equality in recent times, young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are still not able to be completely open about their sexuality and identity without fear of negative reactions and 65% of the population have witnessed or are aware of discrimination and abuse of LGBT people.

The same poll also shows that whilst awareness of discrimination against LGBT people is high, 72% of the population support the need for more and improved services for young LGBT people.

The poll of over 1,000 people of all ages across Great Britain conducted by Populus finds that:

  • 76% of people believe that young LGBT people experience negative reactions when they are open about their identity at school
  • The same proportion (76%) believe that young LGBT people experience negative reactions in the street when they are open about their identity and worryingly this figure rises to 84% of 18-24 year olds
  • 66% believe that young LGBT people experience negative reactions when they are open about their identity at work
  • Nearly 60% believe that young LGBT people experience negative reactions from their parents when they are open about their identity

These findings are perhaps not surprising when set alongside other findings from the poll about discrimination and abuse of LGBT people with one in 10 people being aware of or having witnessed physical abuse of LGBT people and a third having witnessed or been aware of verbal abuse of LGBT people – rising to half of all 18-24 year olds.  The poll also confirms that the use of the term ‘gay’ in the negative is widespread.

The findings come as a national survey of 15,000 young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) 16-25 year olds is launched . The National Youth Chances survey is seeking the views of young LGBTQ people across England and will use the data to identify their needs and to make recommendations for change. National Youth Chances is the biggest ever social research and influencing project of its kind, aiming to find out direct from young people about their experiences of education, employment, health, community and relationships.   Youth Chances is also engaging service providers, service commissioners, policymakers to make a commitment to make improvements for LGBTQ young people.

Dr Greg Ussher, Deputy CEO of Metro said:

Metro’s expertise in working with young LGBTQ people over nearly 30 years was the catalyst for National Youth Chances. There have been major steps forward in LGBT  equality and in understanding the needs of young people, but as the findings of this poll show we still have a long way to go to eliminating discrimination and ensuring that sexuality and gender identity are not barriers to young people’s happiness and wellbeing.  The findings are perhaps not so surprising when we consider the questioning of equality in current debates about equal marriage, which must be bewildering for most young people. Youth Chances offers us an opportunity to turn things around and make a real difference.

Dan Baker, Youth Chances Project Manager said:

These findings really demonstrate the importance of National Youth Chances and the need for us to understand directly from young people themselves about the challenges they face. It saddens me that when young people need the most support and understanding, they still face discrimination and fear because of who they are.  I want to encourage as many young people as possible to take part in the Youth Chances online survey so that their experiences can be counted.  There is clear support in the general population for more and better support for young LGBT people and I am committed to ensuring that Youth Chances results in recommendations for change and a real difference to young people’s lives

Via: Metro Centre On-line 

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Help Make Homophobia & Transphobia History!

The issue of whether marriages between same-sex couples should be recognised or not has been a a key issue in the White House recently and history was made yesterday when American President Barack Obama declared his unequivocal support for same-sex marriage, taking a bold political gamble on an issue that divides American voters just months before a presidential election.

This has been prompted by an election on Tuesday in the key swing sate of North Carolina, in which voters overwhelmingly backed a move to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions.

(Read more about Obama’s stance on gay marriage here)

The issue of Gay rights is not limited to America, it’s global and there is still lots of work to do in this country, and indeed our city.

Next Thursday (17th May) is International Day Against HOmophoba  & Transphobia (IDAHO Day) and the Leicester LGBT Centre (website) is opening it’s doors between 2pm and 6pm to promote awareness of the effect homophobia and transphobia have on our communities and society as a whole.  This will include stalls and information from StopHateUK, Safer Leicester Partnership, Leicestershire County Council, Stamp It Out, and many more.

More information is available from the Leicester LGBT Centre website we hope you’re able to attend and help make homophobia and transphobia history!

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