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This Next Step program empowers, educates and encourages young people living with HIV to develop important life-skills, make healthy choices and let their voices be heard through year-round, youth-led, peer support and leadership programs.
Babies born with HIV fifteen or twenty years ago were never expected to survive, but the increasing effectiveness of medication during the past decade means that these youth are still with us, fighting to live normal and productive lives.
Too often, however, they live with a weighty secret, and feelings of isolation and anxiety about the future.
Young people with HIV are often dealing with loss of parents, poverty, depression, discrimination, unemployment, under-education, and neuro-developmental delays. These realities underscore the largely unmet need for resources to prepare them for an adulthood most thought they would never reach.
This program shatters these limitations through education and community-building. Youth participants develop leadership, advocacy and life skills to achieve good health, positive behavior, socioeconomic success and civic engagement. Programs are designed with the input of a Youth Task Force composed of ten HIV positive young people and a broad partnership among several New England-based medical institutions and social service agencies.
In 2012, Next Step published Moving on Positively - A guide for Youth, Caregivers and Providers with the support of the MassCARE Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The book is the product of a series of focus groups that our program led with young people living with HIV, their parents/caregivers and health providers in Massachusetts, in order to identify the challenges to transition in care and practical solutions. The book provides a series of recommendations for each audience, that will help prepare young people for transition and keep them focused on a healthy and successful future with HIV.
If you are a young person living with HIV who is interested in participating in this program at Next Step or if you know a young person with HIV who may be interested in this year-round program, please contact our program director, Kepler Jeudy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 617.864.2921.