Our Project 100 Trainer and Coordinator James Morris reflects on what quality of life for people living with HIV after attending the International HIV/AIDS conference in Amsterdam
As an HIV positive person, attending my first International HIV/AIDS conference, I was astounded by the number of workshops, sessions, stalls, people, stands, organisations… it was an overwhelming experience to begin with.
Part of me finding my feet was to look through the sessions and make decisions around where I attended. I saw a session that really piqued my interest:
‘In search of the fourth 90: Exploring and defining what quality of life means for communities and strategizing how we get there.’
This really resonated with me, for multiple reasons. Having been diagnosed, and now on medication and undetectable, I have been more aware of my wider wellbeing, and what quality of life means to me. With the work that I do as Project Coordinator of Project 100, the idea of quality of life and wellbeing feature heavily in the work we do as a Project. Both Mentors and Mentees have the opportunity and the skills to increase their wellbeing and focus more on their quality of life once the medical aspect of the virus is managed.
The session really explored in depth the concept of what the fourth 90 might be; there was great discussion around what this looked like for individuals, and how does this change with all of the variables present in our diverse lives; socio-economic circumstance, other health conditions, country of residence, ethnicity, social groups, family and lots and lots of other aspects that can and do vary person to person.
This really came to the forefront as we broke into working groups. The section that I worked on with others, was around what kind of aspects make up the fourth 90, what variables are there, and how can the fourth 90 be measured?
I had the privilege of supporting the group map this out, and we engaged in thought-provoking discussion. The real take-away for me was exploring how; how do we measure something as individualistic as quality of life? We discussed what made up quality of life, and then looked at the varying measurement tools available to us currently and how we might go about creating a new tool to achieve this outcome.
This session really began the discussion around our next step as HIV positive people. With the UK almost achieving the three ‘90’ targets: 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed; 90% of them on medication; 90% of them undetectable. This now paves the way for us to begin looking beyond diagnosis and medication, and to our future; collectively and individually. What is your quality of life? What tools, skills or resources do you have to strive towards a greater quality of life? For me, I will continue to strive for a better quality of life, for myself.
by James Morris, Project 100 Coordinator