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Alex M
Claudia
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Claudia

Claudia has been an important person. She pioneered the HIV youth movement in Toronto with a few other people. She continues to be a role model to tons of youth and women as they seek to get connected to the community.

Claudia was 23 when she had a baby and tested HIV positive. Claudia found herself in three different roles: a parent, a youth and a woman. Although there were lots of things that were on her plate as a mother and a woman, being young and positive was at the forefront for her. Claudia got involved with the Teresa Group in Toronto and stayed involved for about four years as a Board member. As she started getting to know the HIV/AIDS community, Claudia felt that HIV-positive youth were not recognized. A turning point for Claudia was an invitation she got from David Kelley (a social worker, activist, and advocate for gay men, lesbians, gay youth and people living with HIV/AIDS) to go out for coffee at an Ontario AIDS Network (OAN) conference in Toronto.

After that invitation, Claudia started connecting with other positive youth to whom she could talk and who understood her issues. She met Alex from Positive Youth Outreach (PYO) at the OAN and together they decided to pick up the pieces of PYO and continue the program. But there was still little attention being paid to issues for positive youth, so Claudia made it a goal to bring them up at every place she went. A number of times, people accused Claudia of skewing statistics to make it seem like the issues of youth with HIV needed attention. But after a couple of years, people started to pay attention and PYO starting to take off.

Positive youth from across the province started getting involved in the drop-in, women’s groups and the annual general meetings, as well as various conferences like the Canadian AIDS Society and the OAN. But funding was difficult to find and the PYO staff were starting to burn out so the youth at PYO decided that it made sense to join with the AIDS Committee of Toronto in 2001.

Claudia has left PYO but continues to support the program through the work she has done at Voices of Positive Women. She continues to bring youth issues to the table and believes that HIV-positive youth are some of the most resilient and courageous people she knows in the HIV/AIDS community.

 
 
 
 
Hospital for Sick Children University of Toronto Positive Youth Outreach CATIE