2019 Advocacy-for-Cure Academy

Owen Mulenga

Nationality: Zambia
Institution: Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC)
Country of work: Zambia

What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?

Being HIV positive, I always want to be part of the activists who will advocate for the government to increase resources towards research for HIV cure and vaccine. Also as a community health advocate and HIV treatment adherence counselor in Kafue I have failed to answer questions from patients who wants to know how far is the HIV cure to be developed. Therefore with knowledge gained from the academy I will be able to give my clients the update and accurate information on HIV cure research.

What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?

Currently I am doing the advocacy for routine viral load testing for people living with HIV who are on treatment in Zambia targeting 3 districts, namely Kafue, Kaoma and Kapiri. The project has 2 activities, viral load test demand creation and advocacy. During our advocacy, we have seen some improvement in Kafue and Kapiri though there is still a lot to be done in Kaoma where very few patients have done the viral load test since they started the treatment. We are also advocating for the roll out of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in Zambia and our advocacy is yielding positive results as the government has opened the clinic for PrEP in Lusaka.

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

The knowledge learned will be helpful to my current work especially the advocacy for the routine viral load test and the availability of PrEP, which are currently big issues for key populations and people living with HIV in Zambia. In addition, it will contribute to increased advocacy for accessible, affordable and quality HIV care and support services for people living with HIV and key populations. The knowledge gathered from the academy will be used to build a cadre of advocates, which will be critical in offering an oversight role on issues of HIV in Zambia.