Passing on the Torch

Archive ID: 2012_passing_on_the_torch_edited

Interviews with young HIV and AIDS activists from Cambodia, Mexico, Sweden, South Africa, and the United States, on youth, HIV and AIDS.

Background material

"This film illustrates that a new generation of HIV activists now are entering the scene, learning from the older, first generation of AIDS activists from the 80´s and 90´s. The older activists are now passing on the torch to the younger activists. When the older generation entered the AIDS arena, an HIV diagnosis was equal to a death sentence. After the breakthrough of the antiretroviral treatment in 1996, this is not the case anymore. It is a time of optimism now, which I felt during this film production." - Staffan Hildebrand

Interview with Staffan Hildebrand in May 2015. Duration 1.56 min



I'm Mony Pen-
I'm 32 years old-
I live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia-
And I have been activists
for eight years-

I become the activist-
First, I'm a person
living with HIV-

And now I'm peer educator
to a new ed activist,

called Miss Prum Dalish-
My name is Dalish-
And I am 27 years old-
I'm working for the
Cambodian Community of Women

Living with HIV-
And I have been living
with HIV for 12 years-

The HIV prevalence in Cambodia
right now is going down

and the number of [INAUDIBLE]
HIV who are on the medication

is increasing-
But we are facing
the second wave

amongst the most at-risk
population, including

men who have sex with men,
drug users, and sex worker-

This area is so very poor
area in Phnom Penh, where

there are a lot sex
workers who are also

HIV positive living here with
very bad living conditions-

And also the environment, the
sanitation also is not so good-

I brought Dalish
to this area today

in order to introduce her to
the woman support group here-

And also it's kind of
an opportunity for her

as an activist to learn
what is the living

condition of the women
in the community,

so that she can learn
more about the issue-

And then she can like build a
closer relationship and also

confidence for the future-
Mony is very, very good leader,
as I use to learn from her,

and she always guide me-
And she always tell me about
the difficulty in this area-

We do not discriminate-
And they are sex worker,
but also they are woman-

And they're also
infected by HIV-

So we feel like we have the
heart, the same feeling-

That's why we try to
enroll them in our program-

And also, we talk
about the human rights,

the women's rights,
and how do to stand up,

and how to empower ourself
to be like a speaker,

to be a leader in like
even in your small group-


I'm Ricardo Barush-
I'm from Mexico-
I'm 27 years old-
And I'm working on
different issues

of sexual protective health,
particularly HIV prevention

among young people-

Today we had the
walking to remember

people who have died of AIDS-
As a gay man, HIV is
something that it's always

been close, very close to me,
because I have many fridata-ends who

are living with HIV-
I have fridata-ends who have died-

In Mexico, five of every six
people who are living with HIV

are men, which shows how
men who have sex with men

are affected by the epidemic-

We're in Amberes Street-
This is where the gay area
in Mexico City starts,

the Zona Rosa-

It's difficult to
change behavior,

because a lot of times people
who come here to Zona Rosa

do have the information,
the knowledge, the condoms,

the tools, but there's something
there that is not working-

So like we don't know
exactly what it is-

But that's why we need
to ensure that there's

like a comprehensive
response to HIV-


My name is Andrea Bergstrom-
I'm 26 and living in
Stockholm, Sweden-

I am the international
coordinator of Stockholm Pride-

It's a festival for lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgdata-ender,

and queer people-
And I'm an activist-
One of the persons who really
inspires me as an activist

is Steve-
He has lived with
HIV since 1987-

He's a fridata-end-
Steve has a long
career as an activist-

And you can really feel his
commitment to the issues-

And also, you can
feel the passion-


What I found so beautiful
with your book inside

it is that you give a voice to
people who otherwise would not

have been heard-
That's very nice to hear,
because that was really

my intention when
I did this book-

This is one of my favorite
photos, wide open doors-

And I believe in
open communication-

It's so important when
you talk about HIV

that you are inclusive-
My voice as a young LGBT
activists in Sweden,

I have been heard-
But when I look at my fridata-ends
in some parts of the world,

I can see that their
voice is not heard at all-


I'm working for the
rights of LGBT people,

because I have a personal
connection to the issues

and also because I think that
LGBT rights are human rights-

And human rights is
something I think

should apply for
everyone in the world-

In the summer of 2009, I
had the great experience

of receiving four LGBT
activists from Uganda

that visited Stockholm Pride-
I'll call myself an
activist because I

try to make lives of
other gay people better-

When I first meeting
[BEEP] I was amazed

by the braveness and the
inspiration that he has in him

despite the homophobic
society HE lives in-

When I see this movie, and
especially this interview

with [BEEP] who is now
a dear fridata-end of mine,

I still cry to some
parts, because this was

a really strong moment for me-

Homophobia is connected to
HIV and AIDS, and by the fact

that you can't protect
yourself if you are not

accepted within your society-

As an activist, some
days I'm really happy

and some days I'm only angry-
I want to change
things to do better-

And that's what keeps me going-

I am Mary-Jane Matsolo-
I am 29 years old-
I come from Cape Town in the
Western Cape, South Africa-

I work for the Treatment
Action Campaign-

I also work full Ground
Up as a journalist-

And my job involves
being first and foremost

an activist and secondly
everything else-

Ground Up is an online
media publication

with the sole
purpose of reporting

on social issues that never get
to make it on the mainstream

What do we do at
Ground Up is that we

give the voiceless a platform-

I got the opportunity to visit
a township just outside Durban,

called kawMakhutha-
This township has one of
the highest prevalence rate

of HIV and AIDS in the country-
Here, more than 40% of
people between the ages

of 15 to 49 years old
are infected with HIV-

We are going to meet
a group of women

that come from the
Treatment Action Campaign-

And we're going to find out
about the remarkable work

that they are doing in trying to
fight against the HIV and AIDS


Is it a difficult
thing to grow up

as a teenage girl in this area?
Why do you say that?
There's a lot of
pressure in everything,

like the person you are-
Lot of them don't
have self-esteem-

A major contribution factor to
the high HIV prevalence rate

right here is the fact that
the young girls right here

don't have enough

to make their own decisions-
And also, the young men are
not well-educated around

the importance of safe sex-
And that puts them
in a vulnerable stage

to teenage pregnancies and
being infected with HIV-


I'm Christopher Barnhill-
I'm 25 years old,
live in Washington DC-

And I support young people in
the fight against HIV and AIDS

by working with Metro Teen AIDS-

I was born with HIV-
And when I really realized
that I'm infected with HIV,

it can be a little depressing-
You know, I do think about, OK,
like what will my fate will be-

I do think about, oh, my
god, not another pill-

I do think about, oh, my
god, not another illness-

But although I think
about those days,

it does not allow me
to take away from what

I believe that I'm here for-
And it doesn't allow me to
stop thinking about like life,

you know-

The AIDS epidemic in
Washington DC, as you know,

we are number one
with the highest

rated city in the country-
And they compare our rates to
some South African nations,

which is what is
devastating to hear that-

But it's also
influences the work

that I do at Metro
Teen AIDS and the work

that many other
people do in the city-

So right now in Anacostia
neighborhood in Washington DC-

This is Ward 8-
It's considered one of the
highest rated wards in DC

for HIV and AIDS-
The highest wards in DC
are wards 5 through 8-

Why is it so?
It's so because of
many different reasons,

like unemployment
rates, poverty,

failing education system-

I think the most
important would be

just like educate,
educating our young people,

and being of service to them-
That's our mission is to
be of service in regards

to HIV and reproductive health-
That's our mission-
And our goal to is to support
young people, whether they are

infected with HIV or affected-


Today I bring Dalish
to visit the drug user

in the drop in center-
So I think it's very
important to learn about there

situation as the drug user-


After we spent three hours
talking to them, and then

we learned a lot from them-
And then we face like the
same problem, discrimination-

So we shared the
experience, and we found out

we have a similar experience-

This is the first time for me-
And today I have been
with a lot of people

who use the drug and
some people here also

the people living with HIV-

I would like to change the
relationship between the man

and the woman in this country,
because sometime, you know,

I can see the gap
between the power-

Men at this level-
And woman at this level-
That's why like a
woman, you know,

they still become
poorer and poorer-

Here, is the income
generation activity

for woman living with HIV-
And I think it's very
important, because we

can bring the women together-
It is very important to have a
job for women living with HIV-

Because if they go
to work outside,

they cannot find a job-
If they knew their
HIV status, then they

might discriminate them-
So they are here to
like be as a family-

I want to empower
women living with HIV

can be mentally all right-
And I can tell them to
speak up and to stand up-

For the future, I would
like to see a man and woman,

they are looking together
with compassion, with heart,

with solidarity,
and equal power-


Right now, we're going
to have about training

for young activists
who are working

on sexual and reproductive
health issues-

And I'm going to be talking
about youth participation

on the HIV movement in Mexico
and what kinds of things

can be done-

I think it's important to
renew HIV activism in Mexico,

because we also need new
strategies, new way of thinking

about how to address
the epidemic nowadays-


This is a National Institute
of Public Health, one

of the main research
institutions in this country

on health issues-
And this is where I'm doing
my masters on public health-

I'm an activist,
but I also think

it's important to have good
theoretical basis in order

to improve the things
that we do also out there-

So that's why I decided
to do a master's

in public health, because
then I could combine research

and action, which I think
it's something that we really

need in Mexico-

Julio Frenk who was the
founder of this institute,

he's a great role model for me,
because he did a lot of things

to improve sexual and
reproductive health in Mexico

when he was the
Minister of Health-

One of the great
accomplishments of AIDS

was it led to the largest
mobilization of public opinion

and civil society
around the health issue

in human history, and probably
around almost any issue-

AIDS, the fight against AIDS
became a social movement-

And that movement is there
is there to build on-


I think nowadays there
should be a lot of attention

on most at-rick
groups, for example,

men who have sex with
men, drug users, sex

workers, because
sometimes we are left out

from the main strategies
on HIV prevention-



These young men have
just explained to me

the difficulties that they
have around accessing condoms-

And that is one of
the most contributing

factors to the high rate of
HIV and AIDS in this area-

So these young men
are unemployed-

They've got nothing to do-
They make a living
through washing cars

every now and again-


I feel saddened by
the fact that we

have in one, beautiful country,
South Africa, that we have

two different types of world-
We have the world where
everybody has it all-

They can access everything-
And then there's the world
that is stricken by poverty-

The youth feel that the
future is looking very bleak-

These are the type of stories
that Ground Up is always

looking for, the
social justice stories,

the stories that never get
to see the light of day

in the mainstream media-

The experience from kawMakhutha-
Has shown me that
there is definitely

a strong need for activism,
because through activism we

can ensure that these people
get the necessary services

that they are entitled to-
Through activism we can ensure
that their right to health

and human dignity is fulfilled-


So my hero is Phill Wilson
of the Black AIDS Institute-

And it's because I just believe
in the work that he does-

And I see the work he does-
And it's like it is impacting
not just nationally,

but internationally-
And that's a powerful
influence to have-

I'm really excited to be here-
And I'm thrilled
to be able to see

what goes on at Metro Teens-
At this point, when I
think about my life,

and I was infected when
I was 24 years old-

And I'm now 56-
So I've been infected for
a very long period of time-

So to have a role model
like Phill of the Black AIDS

Institute is it
just reminds me--

it's kind of like looking
at myself into the future-

And it's like, wow,
would that be me?

Being able to speak on his
level and to do the amazing work

that he does, it just allows
me to work for something-

One of the reasons
why I'm so thrilled

about every time I have an
encounter with someone that's

young in the fight
is kind of a belief

that, in fact, we can
data-end the AIDS epidemic,

you know, particularly given
the disproportionate impact

and the burden that
young people carry around

the HIV/AIDS epidemic
today, and particularly now

young, black people-

Pretty much right
now we're getting

ready to do some
street outreach-

Street outreach is very
important to the work

that we do-
This is how we connect
to the community-

And this is how we
just pretty much spread

the message of HIV testing-
How old are you?
I'm 18 years old-
I used to go to school across
the street, Haynes Middle

And before I went there I
didn't know anything regarding

sexual health, period-
But after I went
there, Metro Teen AIDS

is like almost across
the street from it-

I went down there and I learned
about how much I didn't know-

And ever since then, it's been
my mission to empower people

to know the things-
Metro Teen AIDS is a
nonprofit about stopping

the spread HIV and AIDS
throughout Washington DC-

So we do things like
HIV 101s, STI 101s,

pass out free condoms, you
know, things like that-

Chris is definitely
a role model for me-

One thing about
Chris, he's always,

always poised in situations,
He's very outgoing-

But when it's time
to get serious,

he keeps his
composure very well-

And I really admire
that about him-

It's very important to
reach out to young people-

It's probably like one of the
most important things you do-

Young people are the future-
And we've got to
invest into the future-

We really have to
invest into their lives-

Young people have the
power to change the world-