The MTV Staying Alive Foundation supports youth-led organisations from across the globe that want to join our fight against the spread of HIV. With small grants that are renewed for a period of up to four years, our young leaders help create awareness about HIV within their communities, using a language and style that they know appeals to the young people surrounding them. This week, leading up to World AIDS Day, we are looking back with some of them as their grant is coming to an end.
Over 1 million Moldovans are living and working abroad, either long-term or short-term. Migration is most prevalent among the young, who are also most vulnerable to getting HIV infected. Due to their unstable lifestyle, they are prone to risky behaviour like drug abuse and unprotected sex with different partners. Half of young Moldovans do not know about HIV and do not protect themselves while having sex. The lack of proper sex education isn’t helping. Moreover, nearly 50% of all people living with HIV in Moldova do not know their status or aren’t officially on medication. Hence, young people in Moldova are very much at risk, which threatens to deprive them of the possibility to fulfil their full potential.
We at Alternativa believe that education and engaging young people in an open discussion about sex is key to creating HIV awareness. Together with providing youth-friendly health services, this can help us build a healthy and prosperous society.
In 2011, we successfully applied for a grant from the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. With the funding, we set up HIV sensitisation activities in 28 villages in Moldova. Together with an ever-growing team of motivated and trained peer educators we’re visiting secondary schools and villages, using a creative approach – including theatre, painting, essay competitions and flash mobs – that gets young people thinking about sexuality and safe sex. Since MTV Staying Alive started funding us we have reached hundreds of students with HIV prevention messages and have helped to create an environment in which it is easier for young people to talk about HIV and sexual reproductive health issues.
Although we’ve faced backlashes from local church leaders, more and more people are now siding with us. We’ve received several regional and national awards, which have been a great recognition of the work we do and illustrate our growing visibility in the community.
The support of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation has been like a bridge that has helped us to access the needs of young people across rural Moldova. Although funding from MTV Staying Alive will end this year, our project to spread HIV awareness will continue to be implemented, not just regionally but also nationally.