A story of loss, passion, and hope this World AIDS Day 2013
I’d like to share my story with you.
I am from Cameroon, a country where the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV is a serious issue. So serious in fact that it is killing people. But the real tragedy is that these deaths are preventable.
I’m 27 years old and I’ve already lost my Auntie, Uncle, and my cousin to HIV. I loved them dearly.
My cousin was only 9 years old when she died. The most painful part of this was that her death was totally avoidable.
Because of widespread stigma and lack of knowledge she could not access the treatment she needed.
She is the reason why I have decided to raise awareness of HIV.
When my Auntie and Uncle died of HIV, my cousin was alone in the world. She could have stayed with family in the city, where she could have accessed HIV medicine and stand a chance, but because of the stigma around her disease nobody would take her in.
She had to move to the village, where, instead of getting the drugs she needed, she was treated with traditional medicine, a form of medicine based on misinformation, a form of medicine that is totally useless against HIV.
My cousin died because of stigma and ignorance.
I had to do something to change this.
So I launched the Action Foundation to dispel all of the myths around HIV, promote awareness of the disease, and get people talking about sex.
Sex in Cameroon is still a taboo subject. People just don’t talk about it.
With the help of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, I was able to launch the “Play Safe” project. By raising awareness of HIV and safe sex in the bars and clubs in my town, my organisation has been able to normalise condom use and get thousands of young people talking about safe sex.
This would have been impossible without the support of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. They not only offered me funding, they extended their trust and guidance…not to mention the pulling power of the MTV brand. Their training programme has also taught me how to become an effective leader.
Where some see young people as inexperienced or risky investments, MTV Staying Alive sees opportunity—an opportunity to end HIV.
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