From toilet seats. Through kissing. By holding hands?
These are all common misconceptions about how HIV is contracted and are exactly the kind of myths that HIV charity Body and Soul is seeking to dispel through its Life in my Shoes campaign, which features a free teaching resource that will be made available online at the end of this month.
“Young people living with HIV are the driving force behind Life in my Shoes,” says Emily Kerr-Muir, who helped to oversee the creation of Undefeated, a hard-hitting short film that forms the centrepiece of the resource.
“It was the young people themselves who initially identified the need to find a way to improve understanding and break down misinformation. They were involved at every level during the development of the campaign and the making of Undefeated – the script, the wardrobe, the references.”
More like something you would see on TV than in the classroom (think Top Boy or Misfits), Undefeated speaks in a language that students will understand. Based on true events, the film combines grit and humour to tell the story of Blessing, a teenage girl living in London with HIV.
“Students have fully related to the resource and its characters,” says Naomi Richards, head of citizenship and PSHE co-ordinator at Preston Manor School in Brent, where the resource was piloted. “Pupil engagement with this has been very positive.”
As well as providing the “science bit” – the facts of transmission, treatment and prognosis – the campaign and resource aims to foster empathy and tolerance by encouraging students to think about how they treat others.
“We hope that we have made a resource and a film that respects rather than patronises its audience,” says Kerr-Muir. “We are challenging young people by treating them as young adults.”
The Life in my Shoes resource will be available to download for free from the Life in my Shoes website when it goes live at the end of February.