Positive Youth Outreach (PYO) is one of the longest running programs in Canada that provides support to young people living with HIV. In 1990, two HIV-positive young people recognised the need for services that would deal with their issues and needs. Initially, they organized a 12-week support group and soon after, PYO was formed. We continue to be run by-and-for HIV-positive young people!
Over the years PYO has adapted to become the embodiment of resilience working from a strengths-based practice equipping HIV-positive young people with the practical tools to enable them to make informed decisions, while fostering meaningful relationships, and empowering them to increase their capacity in leadership and collaboration in the community.
In its first five years, PYO received support through various agencies, including the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation and the Youth Substance Abuse Program, with whom PYO briefly shared office space. A volunteer advisory committee was established. The agency ran a few support groups and offered seminars on peer support for young poz people, but eventually moved in a more social direction. In 2000, the agency established its own office at 790 Bay Street.
In 2001, PYO became a program of ACT. The advisory committee, which is made up of at least 60% HIV-positive young people, continues to provide support for PYO.
Over the years, PYO has been providing practical tools to equip HIV-positive young people to make informed decisions and develop leadership skills.
PYO programming provides spaces that create feelings of safety, acceptance, and belonging. Our programming nurtures resilience by supporting the assets and strengths that all people have. Through safe spaces and asset based programming we create a stronger and empowered community.
The work is far from over! While working with our members and the communities we serve, we will progress in reducing isolation, transmission, and improving the lives of those living with, affected by, at risk for and concerned about HIV.