Using TV talk shows and peer education to educate young people about HIV in Uganda
My mother died from cancer when I was only 9 months old. I was raised by my older sister who had just lost her first husband to HIV/AIDS. In 1993, when I was 5 years old, my sister who was now my legal guardian met someone who was also HIV positive and they started a new life together. Together they made a very difficult decision to start sensitising people about HIV/AIDS.
As child I was stigmatised and discriminated against by other children and people simply because both my guardians were living positively with HIV. The people in my community made me believe that I was HIV positive and so at the age of 9 I shocked my sister by demanding an HIV test. Having discovered that I was negative, I took it upon myself to teach other children about HIV/AIDS since I had gathered a lot of knowledge and information from my guardians.
Once during primary school I was suspended for openly talking about condoms, safe sex, and HIV/AIDS. This just gave me more zeal to continue movements to stop people from discriminating against me and my family because of HIV/AIDS. Since then I have been teaching my peers about HIV/AIDS and openly advocating for safe sexual behaviour among young people.
In 2007, I started hosting a youth talk show on Ugandan TV called “Youth Voices” that addresses positive messages to young people and their parents about issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, sexuality, entrepreneurship, and life skills.
In 2010, I started up an organisation called Reach a Hand Uganda to be a platform to place young people at the forefront in addressing the big issues that affect their sexual health and wellbeing.
Reach a Hand received its first grant from the MTV Staying Alive Foundation in 2011. This enabled us to reach out to more young people especially in secondary schools where a lot of young people may not have access to youth-friendly sex-ed services. As a result of MTV Staying Alive’s support we were able to get the support of local partners and improve our reputation and reach within the community. We’ve now trained peer educators who continue to fight the stigma and discrimination around HIV/AIDS and teach young people how to protect themselves.
To find out more about Reach a Hand Uganda, click here.