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UNYPA FLAGS OFF NATIONAL AMBASSADORS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION.

The Uganda Network of Young People living with HIV (UNYPA) is pleased to inform the public of the just concluded campaign “Y+ Beauty Pageant” where National ambassadors that will lead the fight against stigma and discrimination in their communities, work spaces, schools and global platforms were chosen on Friday, 23rd November, in an event dubbed the grand finale at the Sheraton Hotel.

The Y+ Beauty Pageant is an annual campaign envisioned on "Beauty With Zero Discrimination". The main essence of pioneering this campaign is to fight stigma and discrimination among young people living with and affected by HIV.
Young people continuously face frustrations that come from stigma and discrimination from families, schools and general public. This in the long run affects their uptake of HIV services from health centres, adherence, and they then become fearful to disclose their status. UNYPA therefore uses the Y+ Beauty Pageant as a tool to uplift the plight of YPLHIV, re-echo their voices and work together with partners to build a strong, energetic, creative, and productive generation.

During the World AIDS day celebrations last year, President of Uganda H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni launched “The Presidential Fast-track Initiative on ending HIV&AIDS in Uganda by 2030.” The initiative spells out plans to tackle HIV &AIDS in Uganda through a five point plan to; Engage men in HIV prevention and close the tap on new infections particularly among adolescent girls and young women; Accelerate implementation of Test and Treat and attainment of 90-90-90 targets particularly among men and young people; Consolidate progress on eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV; Ensure financial sustainability for the HIV response; and Ensuring institutional effectiveness for a well-coordinated multi-sectoral response.

The Y+ beauty pageant gives a platform to young people living with HIV to be able to be voices to the voiceless, pillars of boldness and strength to those still afraid of HIV testing, as well as testimonies of assurance that acquiring HIV is not the end of life. The ambassadors then become a network of young people confronting HIV with bold steps, and therefore working towards ousting it by 2030, as the vision of Uganda is. In his speech, the guest of honor H.E Henk Bakker, the Ambassador of Netherlands in Uganda said that young people living with HIV need not to be shunned away from community and the programs for their development therein. He also acknowledged the support that different Development partners have continued to commit and fulfill towards eliminating HIV&AIDS in Uganda.

The UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Karusa Kiragu, noted that Uganda is a model country in the fight against AIDS saying, “Ending AIDS is an investment in human dignity and not a charity.” She further said that Uganda has over one million people on treatment and this is key to achieve the 90-90-90 UNAIDS targets, which project that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and lastly 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
Ms. Anna Mutavati, the deputy representative UNWomen applauded the challenge that young people have placed upon themselves to curb transmission of HIV which reflects as violence imposed on the victim. She further called out to the men to take up responsibility in ensuring the safety and development of all girls and women.

The continued support from policy makers, CSOs, UN agencies, and the government are ensuring that there is a reduction in the number of new infections especially among young people. The fact that everyone is starting to take the responsibility to fight stigma and discrimination which are all forms of violence shall enable us reach a beautiful shore—Zero HIV/AIDS by 2030. For the year 2018/2019, our Mr. Y+ is Niwamanya Hillary, a peer at Mildmay Uganda, and Miss. Y+ is Nabanoba Vivian Alice, a peer at Alive Medical Services.

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