2021 HERO Awards recipient of the Young Achiever
Ikka Noviyanti is the 2021 HERO Awards recipient of the Young Achiever category announced on 26 November 2021.
“…young people’s issues are often considered the same as adults’, so that our problems are deemed unimportant,…”
My name is Ikka Noviyanti. I am a former young sex worker from Indonesia living with HIV.
I still remember the day when I opened the letter from my doctor two years ago which said, “I was diagnosed with HIV”. I felt my life was ruined, and that it was the end. I felt ashamed of myself.
I didn’t want other people to know that I have HIV, and my doctor said that HIV is treatable and as long as I take treatment consistently, and I would still live healthily and have my usual life, so I decided to take medicine.
After one month of treatment, I felt lonely, and I decided to volunteer at a clinic that assists sex workers. I learned about HIV there, until finally, I got a job opportunity in one of the organizations for sex workers in Jakarta.
At that time, my purpose in working in the organization was to find friends who are also living with HIV so that I wouldn’t be afraid of being ostracized. However, the further I got involved in the work of the organisation, I know that there’s so much more to be done.
I met with an organization for the Young Key population in Jakarta, and I became a member there. I realized many young people from the key population are still not aware of their rights. I feel that a lot of violations are normalized, for example, as a young woman who worked as a sex worker, we can’t access contraception, and so many young sex workers had to go through unsafe abortions.
On the program side, young people’s issues are often considered the same as adults’, so that our problems are deemed unimportant, and there is also a lack of trust in young people to run and be involved in programs.
From there, I committed to being more involved in HIV work because we face many challenges every day, especially the regulations that restrict young people from getting health services that they need. I hope that we can all work together to abolish punitive laws to eliminate inequality and end AIDS.
Read more on Ikka Noviyanti here.