Ugandan youth speak of change and hope at the AIDS 2016 Youth Dialogue event.
AIDS is the primary killer of adolescents in Africa and the second cause of death in adolescents worldwide. This sobering fact is all the more reason why it is imperative for youth to be at the centre of the HIV response.
As part of that effort, AIDS 2016 has been partnering with groups around Sub-Saharan Africa to host a series of dialogues with young people to help influence the programme and activities at AIDS 2016. The most recent of these took place in Kampala, Uganda where we had the chance to talk with several of over 300 attendees to share their personal hopes for the future of the HIV response. Here’s what they had to say:
AN AIDS FREE GENERATION
“In the future, we would like to see, zero new HIV infections, zero mother-to-child transmissions and zero HIV in adults and the youth. HIV education forms part of all our work because we encourage women to make sure their partners use condoms to prevent pregnancy, as well as HIV.”- Grace Kayinza, Nakazibwe Dona and Kilgoy Timothy from Reproductive Heath Uganda, a civil society organisation offering a range of services including family planning, cancer screening and HIV treatment and counselling.
Kilgoy Timothy, Nakazibwe Dona and Grace Kayinza
“There is still stigma about HIV in Uganda so we run the Stigma-Free Club, a post-test club where HIV positive teens come and share life experiences. We want to see the end of stigma towards HIV positive people. We say there is hope. There is life after HIV.” - Commie Quandat from NAGURU Teenage and Information Health Centre, a civil society organisation offering HIV counselling and testing, as well as peer education on HIV. She believes prevention is key to ending HIV and hopes more youth learn about AIDS 2016.
Commie Quandat (right) with colleague Makeyone Fatoma
BE HAPPY AND HEALTHY
“In the future, after AIDS 2016, I want to see a solution to stop the spread of HIV. I say to all youth, I want them to live a happy and healthy life.” - Mukula Pascal, from Young Life, a civil society organisation aimed at assisting youth in their spiritual development, sees HIV as a part of all youth development.
Mukula (centre) with colleagues Onega Ben and Okkili Samuel
“We need HIV awareness in youth. The youth need activities to keep them engaged in constructive behaviours. We have a problem with negative behaviours such as drug abuse. These high-risk groups need to be sensitised, or made aware of, HIV. I want to join #AIDS2016, but hope to see new faces. So often it is the same people speaking, people who already have access and a global platform. I want to see different people, like from Uganda, speaking at the conference”. - Sarah Lugoloobi, of the National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda (NACWOLA), hopes for “a country without HIV”.
EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE
“We need to empower the youth to see a change. I want to see the youth empowered through information sharing and economically. I want to bring all of the youth from my organisation to AIDS 2016 as part of my vision for youth empowerment.” - Muhinda Frankline from Nurture Africa, a civil society organisation working with the youth and vulnerable families in Uganda, says “a focus on the youth is critical in fighting HIV”.
YOUTH ADD THEIR VOICES
“The ball is in your hands”, said Sarah Nakku from the UNAIDS Youth Focal Point, Uganda. The youth at AIDS 2016 Youth Dialogue event in Uganda took this to heart and delivered innovative and insightful recommendations to the HIV response in Uganda and globally.