The Duke of Sussex, Sentebale’s Co-Founding Patron, has underlined the importance of creating a resilient, AIDS-free generation, as he encouraged thousands to share their stories of resilience during the Opening Ceremony of the 23rd International AIDS Conference, held virtually, on Tuesday 7th July 2020.
This year, AIDS 2020, the world’s largest conference on HIV and AIDS, highlighted the HIV community’s successes, while also emphasising gaps in access to prevention, treatment, and care services to demonstrate the strength of its resilience.
In a video message shared on the AIDS 2020 online platform, The Duke of Sussex celebrated the resilience of those living with or affected by HIV and introduced two of Sentebale’s Let Youth Lead advocates. The Let Youth Lead program was launched in Botswana and Lesotho in March and April 2017, respectively, and has been growing steadily.
Sekgabo Seselamarumo, 24, who born in the Northwest of Botswana in Maun, shared her story.
Sekgabo Seselamarumo said: “I am a Sentebale Let Youth Lead advocate who has been living with HIV for a little over 16 years. To me resilience is having intentional victories against HIV despite all other life problems.
“It means that you should too accept your HIV status and have good adherence to the ARVs. It also means putting young people at the forefront of decision making on HIV issues that affect them.
“Resilience means that you are going to live life beyond HIV and not be limited by a virus. I am ‘Resilience.’”
The Duke also encouraged Rethabile Sereba, a 22-year-old youth advocate from Lesotho, to share her story.
Rethabile Sereba said: “When I first started my treatment my CD4 count was two. Nobody believed I could make it. But that’s when I became more resilient.
“I started believing so much in myself, also believing that ARVs really are going to help me. I started having positive thoughts regardless of what other people thought about CD4 count.
“I also became more resilient through the support system that I got from my family and Sentebale. Young people living with or those affected by HIV are not just the future – we are the present. We are the leadership and we are resilient.”
In his video message, The Duke of Sussex said: “As you can see from those powerful stories, when we come together, when work together, and we uplift one another, no one gets left behind.
So, join Rethabile and Sekgabo and share your stories of resilience on this special interactive platform, where you will join thousands of others across the world doing exactly the same.
Let’s unite as one through our shared resilience proving that together, we are stronger. Together we can truly overcome anything.”
To that end, The Duke of Sussex called on young people to share their stories on the virtual platform and social media using the hashtags #AIDS2020Virtual #AIDS2020Resilience.
Watch the video in full, here: https://vimeo.com/436054839.