Ugandan Pageant Fights HIV Stigma

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Nearly one-third of Uganda’s new HIV infections happen amongst 15-to-25-year-olds, who say that though there was progress, stigma continues to be an issue. To elevate consciousness forward of World AIDS Day on December 1, Uganda holds an annual style present and sweetness pageant for younger individuals contaminated with the virus that causes AIDS and calls them the Young Positives.

The pomp, dance and style had been on show November 22 on the pageant finale in Kampala. But the purpose of this annual present is not only to show magnificence and expertise.

Ugandan Pageant Fights HIV Stigma video participant.
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“You’re HIV-positive — you’re a moving dead body, or you’re promiscuous,” mentioned Nicholas Niwagaba, who is with the pageant organizer, the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV and AIDS. “We are trying to change that narrative to say that young people living with HIV or people living with HIV are  human beings. We want the community to accept them.”

Education on HIV prevention can be a key a part of the Young Positives pageant, which shows condoms and promotes secure intercourse.

UNAIDS says about 6 % of Ugandans are HIV-positive, one of many highest charges in East Africa. But there was progress in Uganda’s battle towards HIV. AIDS-related deaths dropped by almost 60% in 2018, UNAIDS mentioned. 

Mr. and Miss Y+ Beauty Pageant 2019-2020 in Kampala, Uganda, Nov. 22, 2019.Mr. and Miss Y+ Beauty Pageant 2019-2020 in Kampala, Uganda, Nov. 22, 2019. (Halima Athumani/VOA)

Reaching younger teenagers and younger adults is vital to halting the unfold of HIV, mentioned Nelson Musoba of the Uganda AIDS Commission.

“It matters how the message is packaged and who carries this message,” he mentioned. “And the current generation — fashion, music, working with celebrities is one way to transmit the message to the young people. And we find this very attractive. You can see the attention it’s generating; you can see the participation.” 

Nineteen-year-old tailor Timothy Kabogoza and one in all his 5 siblings had been born HIV-positive. He mentioned he tried to maintain his standing a secret, however his associates came upon and began pointing fingers. 

11-25-19 Photo by Halima Athumani. Kabogoza Timothy, the 1st runner up in the 20192020 Y+ Beauty Pageant, operating a sewing machine infront of their home in Bwyogerere, a Kampala slum.Timothy Kabogoza, a tailor who gained first runner-up honors within the 2019-2020 Y+ Beauty Pageant, operates a stitching machine in entrance of his residence in Bwyogerere, a Kampala slum, Nov. 25, 2019. (Halima Athumani/VOA)

“And for real, I tried to cover up that thing,” he mentioned. “But when I come back in my room, I’ll be like, ‘My God, this guy has said something, oh, my God.’ “

But participation within the Young Positives magnificence pageant boosted Kabogoza’s confidence. And, at this 12 months’s contest, he took second place.

Kabogoza mentioned he needs to go on an upbeat message to different HIV-positive youth: Take your antiretroviral treatment — one thing he acknowledges he has not all the time been constant about — and cease the self-shaming.

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