Advocacy-for-Cure Academy

Shakirah Namwanje

Nationality: Uganda
Institution: People in Need Agency (PINA)
Country of work: Uganda

What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?

As a young person living with HIV and having worked in this field for a while now, I believe there is need to restore hope for people living with HIV, especially the young people. This is my biggest motivation for working in the HIV cure field. We, the young people, need to be aware of the research and be given the chance to participate. This shows the reality of where we stand and boosts adhere to medication and reduces self-stigma because there is hope for a cure one day.

What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?

Having been infected through sexual abuse at the age of eight, I decided to dedicate most of my time to offer psychosocial support to fellow young women going through what I experienced. At PINA Uganda, I help young people to access youth friendly counseling services, encourage them to test, and teach them the importance of adhering to medication. I also educate young people about the benefits of engaging in less risky sexual behaviors, HIV prevention interventions and encourage them to stay in school and become self-reliant. In the Stigmaless band, I engage in music, dance and drama to fight stigma and discrimination and create hope and happiness for young people living with HIV.

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

The academy will avail me with knowledge about an HIV cure and a possibility to learn about HIV prevention, which is also very important. Learning new tools and knowledge will help me answer the provocative questions that people in my community have about a cure and explain to them the progress and challenges, so that they too can hopefully contribute to finding solutions. I also intend to continue working closely with media and ensure that they put out the right well-packaged information to the public, use the platform to network and air my views, and work together to find solutions.