2019 Advocacy-for-Cure Academy

Kennedy Mupeli

Nationality: Botswana
Institution: Center for youth of hope (CEYOHO)
Country of work: Botswana

What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?

At the moment, the only effective way to treat HIV is by suppressing the virus using antiretroviral therapy. This is a daily pill, taken for the rest of the person's life. Despite all these wonderful scientific advances in HIV treatment, cure is the ultimate achievement that I am really interested in. I am a long term survivor and very passionate about HIV cure science and research. I want to cultivate hope in my community about HIV cure. I want to restore hope and motivate my community to start talking about HIV cure. I want to see paradigm shift in the way communities think about cure and have an opportunity to learn scientific facts. Want to help form another generation of advocates who will share current advances and advocate for increased funding for cure research.

What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?

I am currently working on Undetectable = Untransmittable advocacy plan targeting health care providers, research institutions including the media to issue a U=U consensus statement. “With evidence supporting undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) now overwhelming, my advocacy plan target providers to be routinely communicating the message to all of their patients living with HIV. Data we have collected so far indicates that a significant proportion of healthcare providers are not educating their patients about U=U. There is still unawareness and misinformation about U=U in the communities most affected by HIV, including gay communities. Increasing knowledge and understanding of U=U might reduce HIV-related stigma in the broader community and encourage testing and adherence to treatment.

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

The knowledge I will acquire from the Advocacy – for cure Academy will greatly influence my work. As a treatment advocate for over 15 years, I will integrate knowledge I will acquire into my advocacy work. I will perhaps be the first advocate in Botswana to talk about HIV cure and research. Hope for a cure is very low in my community as such bringing hope and to get people talk about cure will greatly bring another exciting and interesting dimension into my advocacy work.