Nationality: South Africa
Institution: National Association of People Living with HIV South Africa (NAPWASA)
Country of work: South Africa
What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?
For me, this exciting opportunity will give significant meaning to my own personal experience with HIV by ensuring that I contribute to scientific knowledge and the improvement of options for future generations. I strongly believe that we can make greater strides if communities continue to be fully engaged in cure research. The benefits of our work can only be fully augmented when biomedical work is in tandem with the communities and their representatives – when they are given a voice. I truly believe that building knowledge in communities will have the greatest return on investment.
What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?
I graduated from youth not so long ago where I was part of a collective advocating for a voice for adolescents and young people living with HIV through the work of the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV. I am using the skills and knowledge from that experience in my current work as an activist for people, especially marginalized groups, living with HIV in South Africa. I am also a co-founder of a community-based organization led by rural trans* women and gender-nonconforming activists, OUT4Life, which aims to build effective bridges to facilitate collaboration among existing structures to strengthen a multi-sectoral support for a safer and enabling environment in which rural trans* women and gender-nonconforming people can access friendly and quality and other essential support systems.
How do you think knowledge learned from the Advocacy-for-Cure Academy will influence your current work?
The knowledge gained from the academy will help in terms of expanding my work to promote community participation in HIV cure research because community participation is a foundation of HIV research. My passion is to give a louder voice that has been missing in cure research – that of the communities. This experience will greatly help me in my work to encourage a more meaningful community participation and engagement.