Institution: Tendo’s World (Arts & Health)
Country of work: Uganda
What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?
I was born with HIV and in the community where I grew up it was more of curse. Being HIV positive also contributed significantly to my low immune system, which suffered from tuberculosis (TB) and then multi-drug resistant TB and failure on my first line ART. Personally, I have faced stigma from the public because of the HPV verruca plana infection, which has no cure but rather requires medication for life. Children and adolescents who are born with HIV also have to take medication for life, which is something that drives me to become an advocate for an HIV cure.
What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?
I am passionate about sexual reproductive health and rights, mainly particularly for children, adolescent girls, boys and young Women (CAGYW) living with HIV and key populations. This has positioned me well to initiate Tendo’s World (Arts & health) with an objective to sustainably improve the well-being of CAGYW through mentorship, capacity building, skills development, adherence support and retention in care. I represent young women living with HIV at National Validation Committee in Uganda, which strengthens the programme management, resource mobilization and coordination, provision of integrated comprehensive eMTCT, where I do follow-up on mothers regarding adherence and mentorship. I am also part of the Presidential Fast Track Initiative, in which we, as champions, are looking to reduce new infections by 2020. I am a Global Fund Advocate Network Speaker and my role is to share the messages to fund the Global Fund and create policy changes for positive enabling environments and to increase domestic investments in health and to encourage collective engagement in advocacy to governments and decision-makers.
How do you think knowledge learned from the Advocacy-for-Cure Academy will influence your current work?
Currently I am a representative on the NVC on eMTCT, where my role is to mentor mothers to adhere so they can have HIV negative babies, advocating for preventive measures and safer spaces for mothers and people living with HIV at large. The knowledge gained from the fellowship will also help me to deliver correct information in my community and to work with different participants on how we can engage communities in HIV prevention, because we cannot end HIV infections with only HIV positives. Being a fellow will give me another platform to reach our policy makers to highlight gaps in HIV prevention methods.