2019 Advocacy-for-Cure Academy

Grace Kumwenda

Nationality: South Africa
Institution: Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication (PIHDC)
Country of work: South Africa

What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?

The field of HIV cure is fascinating to me because it gives me hope in the work that I do. I live in a country where HIV prevalence is high at 8.8% in general population, 62.7% in female sex workers, 17% in MSM. We have around 1.1 million people living with HIV. The hope of getting a cure for this population is an exciting opportunity. There is so much great work happening in HIV prevention and treatment advocacy globally, but not much momentum in cure research advocacy. I believe we need to build momentum and engagement in HIV cure.

What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?

I work in the field of HIV prevention, care and treatment for key populations and young people in Malawi. Through my organization, I work to promote access to stigma free comprehensive services through differentiated service delivery models for key populations. I also advocate for PrEP roll out and access among populations at high risk. Through partnership with Frontline AIDS, I have also been involved in CSO monitoring for the global coalition on HIV prevention targets at country and global level and I am also a member of Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for UHC 2030 (CSEM) where we are advocating for the Universal Health Coverage agenda.

How do you think knowledge learned from the Advocacy-for-Cure Academy will influence your current work?

The knowledge gained through the academy has equipped me to do evidence based advocacy on HIV cure. I will use this information to better communicate the different strategies that are being researched on in HIV cure and keep communities, CSO organisations, policy makers informed. I hope to create some country level cure advocacy momentum through media and CSO platforms in partnership with other fellows from Malawi. My learning will also be incorporated and shared through other existing advocacy platforms that I am already part of.