By identifying and widely publicising how ordinary people from all walks of life who are living with HIV and leading extraordinarily fulfilling, healthy and positive lives, Positive Heroes is:
- Creating an environment where people can live openly with HIV and feel free and able to access services for treatment, care and support
- Redirecting the purpose and energy of all people living with HIV to rise above disheartening circumstances, take responsibility for their lives and move towards achieving their full potential
- Fostering an understanding of how HIV affects and is relevant to all South Africans
- Reinstating the dignity, personal empowerment and self-efficacy of those who are living with HIV
- Sensitising and mobilising communities to create a shared vision and commitment, addressing the current challenges of HIV, especially those of stigma and discrimination.
Our Motivation and Rationale
Underlying the tragedy of HIV in South Africa is a debilitating blanket of silence, denial, stigma and discrimination. Whilst there is almost universal awareness of HIV, HIV remains widely stigmatised. Stigma and discrimination constitute one of the greatest barriers to dealing effectively with HIV in a multitude of ways:
- They deter individuals from finding out about their HIV status.
- They also inhibit those who know they have HIV from sharing their diagnosis and from seeking treatment, care and support for themselves.
- By keeping HIV as an “un-discussable” they make it harder to speak about and share responsibility for prevention
- Prevents open decision making in relation to people’s sexual reproductive and health needs
- Further stigmatise already stigmatised groups and key populations
- They discourage communities and individuals from acknowledging or taking timely action against HIV
Key Outcomes for Beneficiaries
Key outcomes for beneficiaries include:
- Understanding that HIV is a chronic manageable disease and that treatment is available
- Increased acceptance of the effectiveness of treatment (ARVs)
- Achieving a renewed sense of purpose and have positive life goals
- Pursuing healthy lifestyles and taking responsibility for one own’s status and health
- Growing numbers of people voluntarily requesting HIV tests and being tested
- Managing sero-status positively and effectively
- Growing numbers of people in possession of accurate facts and engaging with HIV
- Increased adherence to HIV treatment protocols
Positive Heroes is committed to transparency in all our affairs and delivering excellent value for money by ensuring the maximum donated goes to reducing stigma and normalising HIV.
Positive Heroes’ vision is to reduce the fear, misinformation, stigma and discrimination that still surround HIV in South Africa by:
- Providing role models who encourage and inspire others living with and affected by HIV, with their powerful messages of hope.
- Ensuring that role models come from and represent a wide variety of communities and walks of life both urban and rural
- Sharing real life personal testimonies which counter-balances the fear surrounding HIV with messages of hope without telling people what to do
- Allowing Heroes to become well known and encourage people to engage with and explore the issues around HIV more freely and in a way that transcends all racial, cultural, educational and economic barriers
- Focusing on challenges and key moments such as testing, disclosure and starting relationships with examples of how the Heroes have approached these complex issues
We view people living with HIV as an integral part of the solution, rather than being seen as the problem. It is also widely acknowledged that people living with HIV are uniquely situated to understand one another’s circumstances and that they are often best placed to support one another. The personal experiences of people living with HIV can be translated into helping to shape a response to the pandemic.
The GIPA principle (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV and AIDS) forms the backbone of the interventions of Positive Heroes.
While our heroes may already be known in their communities, Positive Heroes promotes, publicises and raises the profile of these heroes to reach a broad variety of communities in both urban and rural settings. South Africans will be able to engage with role models from a wide range of racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds who are managing their HIV and living full, rewarding lives.
In this manner carefully selected role models who are living with HIV are involved in a wide variety of activities at various levels of the fight against stigma and discrimination. These activities include appearing in national media campaigns, bearing personal testimony, participating in seminars, educational and awareness campaigns in schools and communities, supporting and counselling others with HIV.
We aim to create strategic alliances and joint ventures with other organisations wherever possible in order to pool collective resources, share knowledge and to enhance impact.
By raising the profile of Positive Heroes we:
- Increase the personal relevance of HIV
- Increase willingness and ability to discuss HIV
- Increase understanding and acceptance of HIV
- Increase personal empowerment around all issues relating to HIV
- Increase voluntary HIV testing
- Increase HIV management
- Increase anti-retroviral (ARV) medication uptake
- Increase understanding about the difference between HIV and AIDS
- Decrease fear, shame, discrimination and stigma around HIV
- Decrease the myths and confusion that surrounds HIV