Because I have a wonderful daughter of almost two, I’m more motivated than ever to continue my work for Real People Real Vision. Everything has changed since she is born. I’m even more occupied with my health and accessibility to HIV medicines than before. Now there is a person I have to take care of. Although people are better informed about HIV transmission and treatment now, discrimination is not decreasing in my country. I think it is important that people living with HIV can be open to their families about their status and enjoy the support of their beloved ones.

Being diagnosed with HIV is a turning point in a person’s life – you need time to accept your status and you have so many questions. People wonder where they can get information and care, for example. In Georgia my organisation Real People Real Vision fills this gap. And we support people in other ways as well, such as assisting them to find a house and get education. An essential part of our work is empowering people living with HIV, so they can stand up for themselves. When the association was established in 2010, we were pioneers, but currently also other organisations are working in this field in Georgia. We all work together.

People living with HIV need a stigma free environment – not only for themselves but also for their children

I’m living with HIV myself. Real People Real Vision supported me in a great way when I found out about my status. They gave me helpful information and referred me to the necessary health services. Their individual case management approach is very effective. Up till now, the state doesn’t take responsibility and I am worried about future funding of these valuable activities. The government claims to pay for HIV treatment, but so far the Global Fund provides all financial means. Many things will be clear by the end of 2016.

In Georgia many people living with HIV are middle-aged men who use drugs, but of course there are also other people living with the virus. I feel immensely inspired to be involved in advocacy activities to change attitudes towards people living with HIV, also because I have a daughter now. Being a parent is a huge responsibility. I need to be healthy, stay alive and be able to support my child financially and morally. People living with HIV should be able to lead a good life as long as possible and they need a stigma free environment – not only for themselves but also for their children.

Photo: Chris de Bode

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