First camp for HIV-positive teenagers held in Krasnodar Krai
For the first time, HIV-positive teenagers from Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Ufa, Nizhny Novgorod, Orenburg and Tolyatti will gather from 6 to 15 August in the Sochinsky district of Kuban.
Many of the participants are being raised in children’s homes, in single parent or large families. 45 people, including volunteers (camp leaders, psychologists, doctors and consultants) will be able to relax and take part in educational workshops.
‘I am a clinical psychologist, I consult children and teenagers, inform them of their positive status and carry out group training’, the initiator of the project, head of the non-commercial, charitable foundation and employee of the Tatarstan Republic AIDS Centre, Svetlana Isambaeva, told the web portal medvestnik.ru. ‘Those kids who have already been coming to the support group for four years have, with time, become my assistants. A child with HIV who has only recently received their diagnosis adapts more quickly to the news having spoken to a peer who has been through the same thing.’
The idea of such a camp is drawn from Great Britain, where similar gatherings have been going on for more than ten years. Russian experts are aiming to work on forming a leadership and developing a proactive stance amongst the teenagers, so that they can go on to help others.
According to official data, there are more than 10 000 young people living with the diagnosis in Russia. In the opinion of epidemiologists, in reality the figure is three to four times bigger. In the words of Svetlana Izambaeva, many cities lack specialists who can work with HIV-positive teenagers. This often has lamentable consequences. Amongst teenagers, there are many AIDS-dissidents, who think that the diagnosis is made up and no such illness exists in reality. There are also cases where they infect their sexual partners.
Roman Polikarpov, the deputy chief doctor of Children’s Policlinic No. 17 in Rostov-on-Don, the main peripatetic specialist in HIV-infections in the city’s Health Department, thinks that the new camp is a kind of school for patients, combined with rest and rehabilitation.
‘The camp in the Sochinsky district is a place, where every teenager can be themselves and not fear judgement because they are HIV-positive’, Polikarpov summed up.