Marius is 16 years old and was referred to Body & Soul’s Teen Spirit HIV service by his GP in 2016. He was adopted as a baby, but has had a difficult childhood and early adolescence. Marius struggles with his HIV diagnosis and has anger management issues that emerge at home and at school. Social services became involved in his case last year when his HIV status became known at school. He was isolated by his peers amid accusations that he had unprotected sex with a girl in his school.
Since his registration at Body & Soul Marius has attended the Teen Spirit monthly event nine out of 11 times. In the last quarter, he took part in a filmmaking workshop that involved participants talking about their experience of HIV. Although Marius chose not to reveal his face in his short film or to say the words ‘HIV positive’, he sat in front of the camera and proclaimed: “I can’t change the fact that I’ve got what I’ve got. But I can still be successful and I can be whatever I want to be in this world.”
Marius worked as part of a small team to produce the film. This represents marked progress: in previous times, he was reluctant to engage in reflective activities and often showed hostility towards fellow members, volunteers and staff; now he is smiling and laughing more and presents an enthusiastic, upbeat demeanour.
This is not to downplay the significant challenges that Marius still has to grapple with, particularly around managing his emotions when he is faced with a challenging situation. Part of the plan we have developed for Marius involves exposing him to as many opportunities to engage in positive social interactions as possible and to broaden his repertoire of coping mechanisms for dealing with disappointment and frustration.
Marius is about to move from secondary school to college. We will be by his side during this unsettling period to ensure he has the support he needs to embark on a fulfilling future, and we will liaise with his sixth form as well as the agencies and statutory services involved in his care to ensure a coordinated approach. Progress can be slow, but we are patient.