“Oh God, I’m HIV positive and am so alone in this, but I trust my sister will be there for me...” said Lindo.
“What? HIV!? Get the hell away from me!” replied his sister.
These are just a few of many emotional depictions in the newly published colourful comic strip booklet by WhizzKids United (WKU), in a joint effort with Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy.
The comic strip initiative officiated by Cardiff University is aimed at enabling HIV infected youth at WhizzKids United to tell their story in a metaphoric way, highlight their experiences whilst living with HIV & AIDS, use comic strips as a medium to convey a message in a fun but effective way.
Dr Lisa El Refaie, Communication Research at Cardiff University, said the main purpose of the comic book was to grant the youth the opportunity of sharing stories, in an effort to support HIV & AIDS education in the region, Pietermaritzburg, where 60% of adults are HIV infected.
"I suggested WKU might run workshops on how to draw comics, as a way to encourage the teenagers to explore and express their own experiences and feelings, and create educational messages relevant to other young people in their community. The results were remarkable, with the teenagers telling some extremely moving stories for the first time."
The idea was welcomed by Marcus, the CEO and founder of WKU, who expressed astonishment of the openness from the youth, but also the response from the counselling staff, who believes rejection, was mostly portrayed in the kids’ comic strips. Marcus was led to the conclusion that HIV&AIDS infected youth fear stigmatization could lead to rejection from society, and therefore the youth feared being ostracised rather than death.
The comic book is definitely a step in the right direction for WKU, the platform of using arts to depict a story is totally different compared to a child being interviewed by a counsellor, and the child is under no strenuous pressure but is granted the chance to tell their story in whatever way they desire through art.
The comic book can be downloaded on the WhizzKids United website.