2019 Advocacy-for-Cure Academy
Institution: Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP)
Country of work: Botswana
What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?
Part of my work includes empowerment of community with information to help them make informed decisions about issues of health and participation in research. However, HIV cure research is quite new and has to be approached with caution armed with solid knowledge in the area. Additionally, HIV cure research provides a window of hope for possible elimination of HIV sometime in the future. Therefore, creating a pool of advocates who are well trained and supported will ensure that the cure agenda is moved forward with everyone, from communities to researchers, on board.
What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?
As a Community Engagement Coordinator where I work, I advocate for community engagement and involvement in the research agenda. For engagement and involvement to be effective, communities have to be empowered with knowledge. Recently I am working to empower communities with information around PrEP. I have realized that there is a lot of confusion and stigma about PrEP, therefore, I am working with organizations that have PrEP demonstration projects to share information about what PrEP is and how it works. The hope is that this will eliminate PrEP-related stigma and empower those who are on PrEP with knowledge and ability to explain to other people what they are taking and why they are taking it.
How do you think knowledge learned from the Advocacy-for-Cure Academy will influence your current work?
There is a need for our community stakeholders to know about HIV Cure Research and to give it a voice. Therefore, the Advocacy for Cure Academy will broaden the scope of advocacy work that I am doing to include all community stakeholders – communities, organizations, policy makers and implementers within the health care service provision.