Meet the Youth Champions for Key Populations

Pascal Macharia Irungu

Country: Kenya
Age: 25
Occupation: Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
Organization: Health Options for Young Men on HIV/AIDS and STIs (HOYMAS)

Who are the Youth Champions?

I am a member of a male-sex-worker-led community-based organization in Nairobi. I have been involved in research, programme design and community outreach which has given me insight into the phrase “Nothing about us without us” in programming for key populations.

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

As a man who has sex with men who has worked with the sex workers' community in Kenya for over five years, I have experienced stigma and discrimination that my community faces from healthcare providers and community and religious leaders first-hand. But I have also witnessed that with the right kind of healthcare worker sensitization and by empowering sex workers on their health rights, these individuals will access care without fear. Over the years, I have been involved in different community-based organizations with the primary aim of bringing down HIV incidences and improving adherence among male and female sex workers in Kenya.

What is the topic of your project?

In my project, I am aiming to better understand the barriers that keep young men who have sex with men and young male sex workers from accessing HIV testing and other sexual and reproductive health services.