This is Marios Atzemis, a resilient individual from Athens, armed with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. Marios has courageously confronted HIV for the past 13 years while navigating a history of substance use.

During his path to social reintegration within the rehabilitation unit18Ano, Marios actively engaged with the “Collective Actions of Social Solidarity” activist group, collaborating with both peers and therapists. His unwavering commitment to positive change led him to become a harm reduction officer at Positive Voice, the Association of people living with HIV.

Marios extends his influence across European networks, particularly in the realm of drug policy. He serves as a steering member of AIDS Action Europe, representing the European Aids Treatment Group within the civil society forum on drugs. Additionally, he holds a significant role as a board member of the drug policy network for Southeast Europe. Above all, Marios proudly identifies as a dedicated peer worker and an integral member of the drug user community.

Marios’ journey has been marked by personal loss, as he tragically lost both his parents in 2010, coinciding with his HIV diagnosis. He vividly recalls the stigma he endured, recounting an unsettling encounter with a doctor who refused to prescribe ARV medications and a distressing experience at a public clinic involving an oral abscess where he was instructed to swallow the pus from the abscess.

His life took a challenging turn after receiving an inheritance, propelling him towards an intensified engagement with drug use. However, Marios’s remarkable honesty about the circumstances surrounding his contraction of HIV remains truly inspiring.

Today, he has fortified his commitment to harm reduction through additional training and passionately advocates for the welfare of drug users and those affected by HIV.