Who we are
Meet the team! Y+ is made up of staff members who are guided by the Y+ Board and members of the Advisory Board.
The role of the Y+ Board is to guide the development of the Y+ network; determine programmatic priorities; make decisions through a transparent process; ensure different communities of young people living with HIV (YPLHIV) from all regions are represented in Y+ decision-making; and strengthen the leadership of YPLHIV from community to the global level.
The Y+ Board is composed of young people under the age of 30 living with HIV from 8 regions.
- West and Central Africa
- East and South Africa
- Asia Pacific Region
- Latin America and Caribbean Region
- West and Central Europe
- North America Region
- Middle East and North Africa Region
- Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The Board’s mandate includes, but is not limited to:
- Make decisions on behalf of the Y+ network
- Provide strategic guidance and oversight to the Y+ network
- Elect an Advisory Board Member to GNP+ on behalf of YPLHIV
- Recruit and provide guidance to the technical staff.
Julian was born in Lebanon in 1991 and holds a BA degree in Banking and Finance and MBA degree in Business Administration.
Julian is an HIV/AIDS advocate who focuses mainly on youth and key population issues. He got engaged in the HIV/AIDS response at the age of 19 as a volunteer at local NGOs, where he implemented several projects at the local/country level, giving awareness sessions and outreach work. He then moved to representing youth in the MENA region on several regional and international platforms.
Having joined the Board of Y+ in January 2015, he was then elected to be the Board Chair. As a Y+ leader his main goal is to ensure that the voices of YPLHIV are heard in addition to stressing the importance of meaningful and effective youth engagement.
Julian joined MSMGF in 2016 as a Steering Committee Member at the Youth Reference Group and then became Board Member at MSMGF representing young people. In 2017 he joined the Board of The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) bringing the voices of YPLHIV to the Board of GNP+.
Consolata Achieng Opiyo
Consolata is a young woman who acquired HIV through vertical transmission (from mother to baby). She holds a Diploma in Communication and a Certificate in Computer Study and is currently studying to further her education.
Her competencies lie in leadership as a Board Member of ICW Kenya and ICW East Africa representing Kenya, SRHR, Advocacy, Peer Education, Public Speaking and many more. She has worked for ICW Global as the Junior Communication /Advocacy Assistant.
She is a positive thinker, bubbly and witty. Consolata joined the Board of Y+ in 2015, representing East Africa.
Bakita is a British born Ugandan, living in London. She is a learning and development trainer and a poet.
She is studying an Anthropology and Community Development Masters in London. Bakita is also a keen traveller and loves any opportunity to see different places.
Bakita joined the Board of Y+ in 2017, representing the European region in addition to being a member of Positively UK’s women’s Steering Group.
Darius Rucker or DJ
DJ is the oldest of five from a single parent household in which he was a first-generation college student.
Upon graduating college, he taught for two years in St. Louis public school as a Teach For America corps member while obtaining his Master’s degree in Secondary Education. After his second year of teaching, he realized that he wanted to have a bigger impact on the broader community, upon which he chose to begin his pathway to become an executive director of a non-profit.
Currently, he serves as the assistant to the executive director of Teach For America St. Louis. He is a Big Brother with Brothers Big Sisters, tutors and mentors his former students, and serves as a founding member and President of KORE-U. KORE-U stands for keeping ourselves Keeping Ourselves Respected and exceptionally Educated – United together. He joined the Board of Y+ in 2017, representing the North American region. DJ works constantly with the youth of today to make sure that they remain STI and HIV free!
Yana is 19, from Ukraine and her zodiac sign is Libra! She has lived with HIV since birth and is open about it.
Yana represents the Eurasian Union of adolescents and youth and is part of the Teenergizer team.
She joined the Board of Y+ in 2015 and was also elected to serve as the Y+ 2017 Fellow, which gave her a great learning opportunity and connections globally.
Abderrahim El habachi
Abderrahim is 24 years old, from Morocco and has been living with HIV since 2013.
He is part of the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) representing people living with HIV and has also worked with ALCS (Association de Lutte Contre le SIDA) in Morocco, and CJLA (Council of Young Leaders of Agadir).
He is the first young person in the MENA region to appear publicly on television as HIV-positive. His dream is that the word ‘minority’ exists only in the dictionary.
In 2015, Abderrahim joined the Y+ Board representing the MENA region, and was elected to serve as the Y+ Fellow for 2016 enabling him to have experiences in different scopes of work, strengthening him in communication, leadership and management skills. His favourite quote is: “A Beginning a Fight and a Victory”.
Diego Luis Grajalez
Diego is a young person living with HIV (YPLHIV) from Belize, Central America.
He joined the national HIV response of Belize in 2010 as a volunteer conducting home visits with the Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV (C-NET+), to support people living with HIV with low adherence to their treatment. This NGO received a red ribbon award at AIDS 2016.
Around 2011 he started to focus on creating spaces of support for YPLHIV as there were no support systems for them in Belize. In 2013 Diego joined the Latin American and Caribbean Network of YPLHIV (J+LAC) where he stared getting involved in the regional response. In October of 2014 Diego got accepted to be a member of the Y+ Steering Committee.
In 2015 he got selected by his peers to be the national focal point for the Central American Network of PLHIV (REDCA+) implementing secondary prevention projects.
When Diego is not participating in one of these spaces he usually volunteers with other NGOs participating in primary prevention or human rights initiatives in Belize or doing anything that a person his age does to have fun and enjoy life.
Janet Tatenda Bhila
Janet is a 27-year-old young woman who graduated from the first cohort of the Young Women First programme in 2013.
She holds a BSc Honours degree in Psychology, and advocates for children, adolescents and young people (CAYP).
Janet was scouted by SAFAIDS and other partners to become an SRH champion for adolescents and young people. She has been able to represent CAYP in different forums nationally, regionally and internationally.
She is a public speaker, communicator, team player and stands for the justice and well-being of children and adolescents as well as young people. Janet is currently working as a mentor for community adolescent treatment supporters (CATS) at AFRICAID. Janet is currently also an ALL IN representative for adolescents under UNAIDS, and she also is a member of the Y+ Board.
Gautam is a youth icon for the young LGBTQ community from India. He identifies as gay, is “living positively with HIV”, and is an inspiration to “positives – young and old”.
He’s widely acclaimed for his charming personality, hard work, determination, and passion for establishing an identity for the LGBTQ communities. Gautam is an embodiment of simplicity and a never die attitude.
Gautam’s contributions range from the role of an ‘HIV & Human Rights Activist’, championing the cause of protecting the human rights of the LGBTQ and PLHIV community across the globe, to representing the community voice and key concerns at various international forums. He was on the Board of UNAIDS Youth Advisory Forum from Asia Pacific, a Working Core Committee Member for Youth Voices Count and Board Member for Youth Lead, Bangkok.
Currently, Gautam is working with The Humsafar Trust, Delhi as a Program Officer alongside being a Board Member for Y+, and Steering Committee Member of Men Who Have Sex With Men Global Forum (MSMGF).
Kosisochukwu is a graduate from the Nigerian Army School of Military Engineering and currently a student of the Air Force Institute of Technology, Nigeria.
Kosisochukwu is a co-founder of the David Bongre Initiative which focuses on the Health of Young People, and is a Y+ Board Member representing West Africa.
He was a president of the Teenage Zone Youth Club of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research from 2009-2010.
Kosisochukwu was once an intern and currently a Youth Volunteer with the Positive Action for Treatment Access (PATA) and has also represented PATA and received a Red Ribbon Award on their behalf at the International AIDS Conference, Durban 2016.
He is the Lagos State Coordinator for the Association of Positive Youth in Nigeria (APYIN) and a member of the Youth Participatory Platform (YPP) under United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Alongside these, he is also a Board Member of the Civil Society Health Watch in Nigeria.
Yahir is a dedicated Mexican advocate with work experience on youth health and gender equality at the national and international level. In 2008 he got involved in the HIV arena during the International AIDS Conference held in Mexico City, in which he collaborated with the International AIDS Society to implement the Youth Programme within the Conference.
For the next nine years he has built his skills and experience by working with national and international Civil Society Organizations on HIV-related planning, implementing and monitoring interventions and programmes targeting young key populations.
In parallel, he also collaborated in a community research project on HIV and STI’s among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) led by Mexico’s Public Health Institute in 2009. From 2011 to 2013 he performed as the HIV Programme Director in Espolea, a Mexican youth-for-youth organisation in which he fostered local, national and regional community interventions and advocacy efforts for young people living with HIV and other young key populations.
During this time, he took part together with a group of young Mexican advocates, in the consolidation of the Mexican Network of Young People Living with HIV; while he also participated in the first regional meeting of young people living with HIV that enabled the consolidation of their first regional network: J+LAC.
Since 2014 Yahir has been collaborating in the HIV Young Leaders Fund (HYLF), the world’s largest and pioneering grassroots HIV and youth-led participatory grant making mechanism, for which he served as the Programs Manager during his first two years and later in 2016 he was pointed as the Executive Director of the Fund, a role that he has been performing until now.
Yahir is an advisor member for the Mexican Network of Young People Living with HIV: Alianza+; as well as for the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV: Y+, for which he served as an active member from 2011 to 2014. He is also a member of the Board Directors for Promundo US and he has participated as speaker in diverse forums and conferences at the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNESCO, the Columbia University, as well as in different International AIDS Conferences such as the ones held in Melbourne, Washington D.C. and Mexico City.
Jaime currently holds many roles including Executive Director of Génesis Panamá +, Member of the Board of Directors of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP +), focal point of Panama for Redca+ and Redla +, representative of Panama for the Gay Latino Network.
Jaime graduated from the University of Panama in Chemistry, and is currently finishing his Masters in Commerce and International Relations. He has also worked as a teacher in several schools in Panama City before deciding to dedicate time for professional preparation in the field of environmental analysis and research.
Jaime has taken on the role of Speaker and Panelist in different congresses, seminars and meetings in more than 15 countries around the world on issues of Youth, LGBTI Rights and Human Rights and HIV. As an activist and defender of human rights, he has represented Panama and Latin America in multiple spaces at an international level in the field of Political Advocacy and International Relations.
Jaime has lots of experience working with young people, people with HIV and the LGBT community in his country and now is the new Executive Director in the Génesis Panama + Group, a Board member at Y+, and vice president of the Latin American and Caribbean Youth Forum. He is a young leader who has contributed to the strengthening of the different organisations and spaces in which they participate by providing technical assistance in the different activities carried out. Jaime was selected as one of the 2015 Outstanding Young Laureates, a prize awarded by the International Junior Chamber.
Annah is a member of and affiliated to various youth organizations and platforms, and Co-founder and Team Leader of Community Based Humanitarian Chapter (CBHC) a local CBO that offers mentorship and life coaching skills for young women developing, branding and building their knowledge and expertise to impact positive change, and be effective leaders in their communities.
She is a motivational speaker and a life coach and mentor. In her talks, Annah focuses on encouraging young people to channel their potential for positive outcomes and the importance of young people attaining and enjoying quality of life, health and well-being through awareness of their sexual and reproductive health and rights and information on HIV/AIDS by promoting Positive Health Dignity and Prevention for young people and adolescents. She also believes in the importance of defining their role in leadership within their communities.
Community Development student, Annah serves on the HIV Young Leaders Fund Board and the Y+ Advisory Board, AY+ adhoc committee, Advocacy Core Team Youth Ambassador and PACT member.
Mo is a global health pioneer and leader. He has spent most of his life pursuing global health equity, advancing human dignity, and promoting human rights. He’s a founding member of the Y+ programme, Chairperson of the HIV Young Leaders Fund, a former Board Member of the West African Treatment Action Group and served on the ITPC World Community Advisory Board.
As a child, he helped remove the shroud of silence on the issue of AIDS in Africa when, as a teenager, he biked across his native home of the Gambia, promoting evidence-based HIV prevention. As a young adult, he worked for UNAIDS in Myanmar, served on the AIDS2014 Conference Coordinating Committee in Australia, helped develop the Melbourne Declaration, and advised the Youth and Community Program of the AIDS2016 Conference in South Africa.
He studied at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa and York University in Canada. He is passionate about advancing Universal Healthcare coverage for all, plays Ultimate Frisbee, and is currently co-authoring a book on global health activism and leadership. He blogs for the Huffington Post, serves as an Ambassador for the One Young World, and is a member of the Global Changemakers Network.
Cédric Nininahazwe is the Programme Manager for Y+. Before this, Cedric was the Executive Director of the Burundian Network of Young People Living with HIV (RNJ+) from 2014 till later in 2016.
In 2012, he produced a report on the challenges around care for young people living with HIV in Burundi, which was the country’s first document to inform issues of young people living with HIV.
In 2014, Cedric helped RNJ+ to open a youth friendly centre for young people, particularly for young key populations to access sexual and reproductive health services, thanks to which RNJ+ won the 2016 Red Ribbon Award. Cédric is also a qualified lawyer.