Uganda’s HIV Beauty Pageant Stands Against Stigmatisation
Uganda held an HIV beauty pageant last week, designed to tackle stigmatisation against people living with the virus.
As the nation’s long fight against AIDS and HIV continues, discrimination against sufferers is a major concern, where 7.2 percent of the Ugandan population lives with HIV – up from its lowest rate of 6.4 percent in 2006.
Living with HIV in Uganda
While every effort is being made to prevent further cases of HIV in the country, organisations are keen to show life continues for people diagnosed with the virus as well.
Fighting discrimination is as much a priority as improving treatment for people suffering from HIV, as the shame associated with the virus prevents people getting the necessary tests. And, while progress has been made in recent years, campaigners want to fully remove the stigma and unite everyone in the fight against HIV and aids in Uganda.
A message of hope to young people
The beauty pageant, which travels the country in search of contestants, is now in its second year of running. The event encourages people between the age of 16 and 15 who suffer from HIV to enter – a brave step against the stigma that still exists.
The aim is to encourage more young people to take the HIV test and remove the fear of being known to have the virus. People being aware of their ‘status’ is vital for ensuring they receive the treatment they need and preventing the virus from spreading further.
“The infections are going high because people have failed to disclose their status,” said Jackie Alesi, executive director of Uganda National Association of Young People Living with HIV/ADS (UNYPA). UNYPA hopes the beauty pageant will show young people there’s no shame in having HIV or AIDS and prevent future cases through better awareness.