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The article on young people living with HIV in the UK (Survivors' stories: secret lives of kids who grew up with HIV, 12 March) is a timely reminder of both the ground-breaking medical advances over the past 15 years as well as the specific challenges faced by young people growing up with HIV. HIV-related stigma is indicative of whether our classrooms, playgrounds and even workplaces are "fit for purpose" around the current issues and trends of this epidemic. In many schools across the country young people are sharing classrooms with other pupils and also teachers living with HIV and yet, all too often, have limited knowledge of the basic facts around it. This translates into a culture where shared responsibility around sexuality is undermined – often with disastrous consequences.
People living with HIV – especially young people who are embarking on the human journey of fun and flirtation, discovery and desire – are forced to disclose their HIV status to any potential sexual partner or face prosecution. This does not translate into sound HIV prevention. With one in four young people receiving no education on these issues, schools should play their part and become a hub for comprehensive HIV and sex and relationship education.
Programmes like Positive? – which is supported by the British HIV Association and endorsed by Lord Fowler, chair of the Lords select committee on HIV – need to take root in our schools. Unless they do, these hard-won gains will be easily lost.
International Planned Parenthood Federation