The Peo Scholarship 2021 is awarded to Fatu Willadsen and Mats Stjernstedt

Positiva Gruppen Syd awards the Peo Scholarship for the year 2021, an award in memory of Per-Olof Persson and his work with HIV, to Fatu Willadsen and Mats Stjernstedt.

“Through their decisions to be open, Mats and Fatu have shown both courage and forward thinking. Through their respective actions, they have made themselves and others with HIV heard and seen. We need role models who break new ground and dare to talk about HIV in order to reduce isolation, loneliness and the stigma that still accompanies living with HIV. We are proud to be able to award this scholarship to these two role models whom have worked excellently in the spirit of Peo. ” Says Conni Rooke, chairman of Positiva Gruppen Syd.

In 2021, Fatu announced that she was living with HIV on social media. Through her openness, people from all over the world have reached out to contact her, she has been diligent in collaborating and participating in various contexts, locally by lecturing in Malmö and internationally by participating in debates and programs on social media. Her work in educating other people living with HIV, and talking in society about what it is like to live with HIV, has opened the door for others to be more open.

In connection with World Pride 2021, Mats received a question from Sydsvenskan about what World Pride meant to him. In the video that was later published on Sydsvenskan, Mats talks about his HIV and his experience living with HIV. The exhibition by José Leonilson at Malmö Art Gallery and the panel discussion on HIV that Mats was an integral part in organizing, also made HIV visible to a wider audience.

Both Fatu and Mats live and work in Malmö. The award ceremony was carried out in connection with World Aids Day at Positiva Gruppen Syd’s premises and coincided with an evening of mingling, music quizzes and food.

The 2021 award marks the 25th anniversary of the Peo Scholarship, the scholarship was awarded 1996 for the first time. This year’s appointment is also the first time the scholarship has been awarded to two recipients. In 2020, the Peo Scholarship was awarded to Alexandra Arrhén, read about the award for that year and an interview with Alexandra here:

What is the Peo Scholarship? – Per-Olof ”Peo” Persson was 1989-1993 chairman of Positiva Gruppen Syd and a pioneer in drawing attention to HIV and AIDS. He did this both in southern Sweden as well as nationally, as vice chairman of RFHP (National Association for Hiv-positive people, current Hiv- Sweden) during 1991-1993. Peo died in 1995 and since 1996 a memorial scholarship has been awarded people living with hiv acting in the spirit of Peo. Read more about Peo and the scholarship here: 

Portrait images for the article from: Private photo /