Meet the Youth Champions for Key Populations in Eastern Europe

Filip Varnaliev

Country: Serbia
Age: 23
Occupation: Peer educator and outreach worker
Organization: Rainbow Association (Asocijacija Duga)

Who are the Youth Champions?

In addition to pursuing a Master’s degree in German studies, I volunteer as a peer educator and outreach worker at “Rainbow Association”, a community-based LGBT organization.

What motivated you personally to get involved in the HIV response?

Since I started my role as an outreach worker and peer educator, I improved my HIV prevention knowledge and feel it is important to pass it on to my peers – especially to help achieve lower new HIV infection rates among young men who have sex with men (MSM) in Serbia.

I think peer activism is crucial in order to be able to reach young people with HIV prevention messages. Through the promotion of condom use and early HIV testing and treatment, I hope to contribute to HIV prevention efforts in my community.

What is the topic of your project?

My project, “Youth for Youth: Combatting HIV/AIDS and raising awareness among young MSM in Serbia”, aims to increase the HIV knowledge, skills and self-confidence of young MSM. We are working towards improving existing outreach services through a series of focus group discussions to better understand HIV prevention needs for young MSM.