I’ve watched them blossom into beautiful people again: Young, Positive and Forging Belonging

Stream: Living with HIV
Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm


Objective: Determine effective community based models for supporting young people living with HIV (PLHIV). Method: Selected international examples of best practice in support services prioritising PLHIV (18-30 yrs) from a range of like settings to Australia. All participants focused upon employing the principals of greater involvement and meaningful engagement of PLHIV. Mixed methods of data collection included interviews and surveys from service providers. Results: Young people’s experiences and understandings of HIV, stigma and belonging requires significantly different structures of support and community than organisations and services established in response to the early epidemic. Young people disassociate their needs from traditional structures of peer support, for whom the notion of a “support group” carries negative connotations of excessive emotional neediness and ‘structured therapy’. Many young people do not see themselves as a part of formal community structures with low representation of young people among their staff and governance. Group peer support models were recognised by all contributors as effective means of achieving increased and sustained social inclusion, resilience and community engagement. A service requires the systemic involvement of young people in its development and implementation to ensure it remains appropriate to their needs. Accessible community is safe, non-judgemental and inclusive. It also exists where young people do: online, in social media, and in youth culture spaces. Conclusion: Empowering young PLHIV to create support networks and focus on the issues they find most relevant enables them to forge community and a sense of belonging for themselves – a step towards overcoming marginalisation.


Timothy Krulic (Presenter), Living Positive Victoria
Timothy Krulic is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree with combined Honours at the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, and School of Culture and Communication. His research interests include national memory and heritage, community health and development, and HIV and AIDS history and literature. He currently works as a health promotion officer at Living Positive Victoria.

Brent Allan, Living Positive Victoria

Suzy Malhotra, Living Positive Victoria