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We started the Y+ Pageant 2019 journey with one step and as we came to its end, we were determined to end it with one giant leap. At Sheraton Kampala Hotel, one of Uganda’s most premium hotels, we held the grand finale of the pageant, picking stories from the ambassadors, watching them step out in spectacular fashion and we crowned a new king and queen.

The ambiance was one to die for. The red carpet experience stretched forth excellently and the guests turned respected it in equal measure with their outfits. It was our Executive Director Nicholas Niwagaba who caught our eye first, with his well fit army-style jacket and matching black pants. His opening remarks were even better than his outfit.

“Let us remember that this pageant is not a celebration of being positive. Stigma, both internal and from the society is one reason why HIV becomes more lethal to the positives, and this event is to boost esteem and encourage everyone living with HIV that they are good enough. They just have to take their medication and keep their heads up” he said

With that our event rolled out. Dramatic dance performances, fashion exhibitions and music performances from Geosteady the Blackman and Winnie Nwagi, two of Uganda’s finest musicians. However, it was at the point of creative wear that the ambassadors, especially Micheal Senyonga, blew the audience away.

A preacher and peer leader, Micheal’s creative outfit was made of cards-yes, cards like the ones in poker. He went on to explain, raising each card symbolically

“If you have HIV and you don’t take your medication, you will die (Die is a Ugandan name for the diamonds in cards) and we will use the spades to bury you. So take your ARVs, so we can remove the die and spades (here he tore the diamond and spade cards) and we only keep your beating heart” which got the audience applauding him frantically.

Micheal’s call was backed up by commitment from the government presented by Dr Nelson Musoba, the Director General at Uganda AIDS Commission and private sector, led by Dr Karusa Kiragu, the UNAIDS Country Director while on the interactive panel powered by Spotlight Initiative.

It was no surprise that when the crowning came, Micheal beat stiff competition to be crowned Mr Y+ with Esther Kabasambo carrying home the Miss Y+ crown. Taking the crown over from Hillary Nuwamanya and Vivian Nabanoba will be no easy feat, so we are wishing our new crown bearers the best.

Special thanks to UN Women, UNAIDS, The Dutch embassy in Uganda, AIDS fond, SRHR Alliance, SMUG, Baylor Children’s Hospital, Radio City, Joram Model Management, CYRA, Y+ Network for making this campaign a success. Same time, same place next year!!

Peers making it Happen!!

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