Share talent, break HIV stigma 

I was honoured to be selected by IAS to participate at the 24th International AIDS Conference. AIDS2022 took in place in Montreal between 27 July and 2 August.

Let me first of all state that everyone, including me, was so disappointed that so many participants where denied visa by the Canadian Government. I was looking forwards to meet Delegates from Burundi and other parts of Africa, butso many did not make it in the end. If Governments continue to exclude delegates from countries where the pandemic hits hardest, how will we end HIV in 2030?

Now on to my time at AIDS2022. I kicked off strong right away! On the 27th of July I was a speaker on the 9th International Indigenous Pre-conference on HIV and AIDS. I was humbled to share the experiences of the indigenous (Batwa) community of Burundi. To me it is clear – all over the World indigenous people are still facing inequalities, leading to relatively higher numbers of indigenous people affected by HIV and AIDS whilst also facing reduced access to HIV education and care givers. We cannot end HIV and AIDS when we leave indigenous people behind!

Panel member of the Indigenous pre-conference

There is still much so much to do around education, awareness raising, access to health campaigns for the indigenous community. This is true at least for my home country Burundi, hence also my commitment to breaking this trend. This event gave me refreshing insights into working with indigenous people to address HIV/ AIDS and other pandemics, and planted the seeds for new  partnerships in Burundi and elsewhere.

Together with Karl Schmid from +life at the U=U Summit

My second major activity was to participate in the U=U Summit on the 28th of July where I was able to meet many of my fellow activists after so many years only communicating online. Did you know that there are still a lot of countries that are not endorsing U=U? This despite knowing that U=U is an immediate and effective response to destroy HIV Stigma  which is still a public health emergency. Again we have to keep on investing in finding the right ways to break HIV stigma!

Ready for action! The Stories of Hope stand at the Global Village

Which brings me to Stories of Hope! The main reason to be on this conference was to share my project through a 3-days exhibition at the Global Village from 29 July to 2 August . As many of you already know, Stories of hope is an initiative where  people living with HIV share their talents to break HIV stigma. The launch of Stories of Hope in 2021 was supported by EATG, and the exhibition was proudly supported by HIV vereniging through sponsoring of beautiful materials and hand-outs. Organising an exhibitions at the Global village, allowing me to meet so many activists, artists and conference participants gave me a such positive energy! I am so proud that Stories of hope has reached so many global delegates and that Stories of Hope unites us in breaking HIV stigma  by sharing our talent. 

Interacting with global delegates during the 3 days exhibition

There were so many amazing side events to still do around the conference. Just to highlight a few: I participated at the famous AIDS Conference party called “No pants, no Problem” where I performed  as  Eric the Drag King and performed a dance called “Flush out HIV stigma”. We actually managed to raise 12,000 Canadian Dollars during the event in support of HIV+ women. Eric the Drag King is another me you did not know about, right? Again another great way to share my talent to break HIV stigma. 

Eric the Drag King at No pants, no problem

I am very thankful to be part of AIDS2022. I want to extend a personal thank you to the Heroes of Hope who shared their stories during the conference; Adam, Matthew, Gloria and Faustine. And I know there are still more Stories of Hope to come from other people I met at AIDS2022. Keep an eye on Stories of Hope for more interviews and portraits!

Share talent, break HIV stigma!

Peace, 

Eliane  

Ambassador of Hope

Today we are celebrating one year Stories of Hope! And we have achieved so much since our official launch on 18 July 2021, Mandela Day. Early last year, we started Stories of Hope with two Heroes, and since then our community has grown to eleven Heroes already!

You may remember that last year we highlighted the important role that Nelson Mandela fulfilled throughout his life for vulnerable people facing stigma of any kind.

Today, on Nelson’s birthday, we are proud to share a touching interview with our friend Adam Castillejo, and a true Ambassador of Hope for the global HIV community. We do hope that Adam will also be an inspiration to all of us!

Meanwhile we are very busy preparing for AIDS2022 as next week around this time we will be travelling to Montreal. We are so excited to connect to fellow activists, role models, and so many more inspiring people.

We also set ourselves a target, namely to capture and share at least one new Story of Hope on each conference day! To make this happen, we really need YOU!

So reach out to us and visit the Stories of Hope booth GVE013 at AIDS2022!

Going global at AIDS2022

We proudly announce that Stories of Hope will be part of the Global Village at AIDS2022 in Montreal, Canada, which will be held between 29 July and 02 August 2022.

So, nearly one year after our launch, succesfully collecting and showcasing the stories of 11 Heroes and distributing exclusive Stories of Hope postcards through various healthcare providers in the Netherlands, Stories of Hope will go global!

At the Global Village we will:

  1. Showcase three original portraits of our Heroes of Hope, and share the Stories of Hope concept with the wider HIV/ AIDS community
  2. Share sample health cards with Global Village visitors and discuss roll-out of more versions in other countries
  3. Organise rapid story telling workshops to record more inspiring stories of talented People Living with HIV/ AIDS visiting the Global Village
  4. Create new Stories of Hope to be launched during AIDS2022

If you will be visiting AIDS2022 and are interested to share your Story of Hope or want to learn more about how you can contribute to reducing HIV stigma in your country, get in touch!

My Heroes of Hope

As an African artist living with HIV in the Netherlands for more than 15 years now, I continue to experience a lot of stigma and discrimination based on me being open about my HIV and my beautiful colour. I realized that for many people with a migrant background stigma is indeed still a major issue. So, in April this year I launched Stories of Hope which aims to inspire people to share their talent as a positive way to deal with and raise awareness about stigma.

On 18 July, Mandela Day, together with the other ‘Heroes of Hope’ we shared our stories with the world!

Sharing our stories on Mandela’s birthday was a perfect moment as he continues to be a big inspiration to me and the world. I have learned a lot from his life experience as a freedom fighter, reconciler, unifier and inspirer. In the spirit of Mandela’s legacy, I truly believe that Stories of Hope will give people inspiration to fight stigma and bring positive change in our communities.

Stories of Hope can be visited at www.storiesofhope.nl. My dream is that our collection will continue to grow in the Netherlands and also beyond. Please vist the website and feel free to connect me to people that would like to share their inspiring stories with us. We believe in your talent and let’s fight stigma together!

A very special thank you to the European Aids Treatment Group for supporting me to make Stories of Hope happen!

Peace,

Eliane