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Aol Gladys and Oscar Otim take center stage; win the Crown as Top Y+ Ambassadors Against HIV/AIDS

At the Grand Finale of the Y+ beauty pageant; the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) crowned Oscar Otim and Aol Gladys as the 2020/21 Mr. and Miss Y+; as the new top ambassadors against HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination in Uganda at Kampala Serena Hotel and the narrative for young people living with HIV/AIDS continues to be changed!!

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HAILING THE Y+ QUEENS &; KINGS FROM THE SWITZERLAND OF AFRICA.

Imagine being so high up the mountains you can nearly see the magnificence of heaven on earth without you actually visiting it; the hosting District of the final regional auditions of the Y+ Beauty Pageant gave realism to that imagination. Our journey to Kabale District was an eight-hour drive filled with thrills and fascinations. The journey was characterized by the sprawling hills with fresh rains and breathtaking air scenery filled us with the breath of pure life; Indeed, this is the “Switzerland of Africa”.

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HAIL THE KINGS & QUEENS OF THE LAND OF ODII!!

It is said that; only travelers tell extraordinary stories! our thrilling adventure to the Land of Odii in search of the next Miss/Mr. Y+ Northern Region 2020/21 is one for the books. The Land of Odii mothers over 14 districts that are the homes of the Langi, Karamojong, Itesots and Kwaku people. From the long- haul ride and the bumpy roads with rhythmic sounds of Aza, our excitements kept gearing up until our final destination in Kwania District. On Friday, October 23rd, our first reception was held at the District Local Government Headquarters where we held a community Dialogue with selected district officials and other relevant stakeholders to understand the reasons behind the widespread levels of stigma and discrimination in the communities.

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KAMULI BOUND FOR THE EASTERN REGION Y+ BEAUTY PAGEANT AUDITIONS!!

The journey of the Y+ beauty pageant continued to the land of the Kyabazinga and Hon Kadaga in Kamuli district
the weekend of 16 th – 17 th October 2020; we started with a community dialogue on Friday 16th October, 2020 at
Kamuli district Disabled People’s Union (KAMDIPU) with 30 stakeholders which brought together teachers, health
workers, like minded SRHR-HIV partners, policy makers, representatives from the media fraternity, religious,
cultural and community opinion leaders among others to dialogue on the ongoing stigma and discrimination among
young people living with HIV/AIDS (YPLHIV) especially in Kamuli district.

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UNVEILING THE NEW QUEENS AND KINGS OF THE Y+ BEAUTY PAGEANT CENTRAL REGION 2020/21

Celebrating 58 years of Uganda’s independence with the first auditions of the 2020 Y+ Beauty Pageant running under the theme, “Changing the Narrative of Young People Living with HIV”. We commenced with a community dialogue hosted at the Uganda AIDS Commission offices in Kampala; the dialogue brought together 25 key stakeholders including; the Global Fund CCM
representatives, opinion leaders, the police, teachers, parents, law enforcement, health workers, media fraternity, CSOs representatives, and young people.

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Unlocking Hope For A Child-led Family in Kwania District

When Oscar Ewaa visited a small family of 3 in Kwania District in Northern Uganda to deliver ART refills to them, all seemed well. The two children Janet Aboki* and Allan Ongom* aged 12 and 8 respectively lived peacefully with their grandmother who had taken care of them since they were orphaned. They thanked him kindly and welcomed the delivery. Fast forward to last week when Oscar went to deliver their monthly refill and the story drastically changes.

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UNYPA’s Mr Y+ Micheal Ssenyonga Living Up To Expectations

There was great joy among the Kasese network of young people living with HIV when their own, Micheal Ballack Ssenyonga was crowned Mr Y+ at the Y Plus Beauty Pageant in November 2019. The pageant is an initiative by Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV (UNYPA) to ensure that young positives nurture their esteem and confidence by being reminded that no matter their status, they are beautiful and have all the potential they need.
Becoming Mr Y+ meant that for the coming year, Micheal an the Miss Y+ Esther Kabasambo would have to grow into leaders who would steer UNYPA’s over 400 young ambassadors to champion programs fighting against HIV from the frontline. They had to always have answers and creative ideas for solving the young people’s challenges. In 2020 one of Micheal’s biggest tasks in the new responsibility arrived, and he responded remarkably.
“Due to the lockdown, I interacted with many young people living with HIV and found that most of them were on the verge of quitting their medication because they lacked food” Micheal narrates.
Feeding is one of the biggest aids to proper adherence, moving closely with access to medication. Micheal like other ambassadors had been patrolling communities on bikes and on foot delivering medication to their peers but the lack of food was a whole new problem that required quick address.
He quickly contacted people who he knew could help with food donations and they were willing but the only way nutritional support could be availed was through the District Task Force. Given the number of people they have to serve, Micheal felt that the issue of urgency towards young people living with HIV would be compromised
“I contacted Martha Clara (Nakato) from UNYPA for support to write a letter to the RDC convincing him to allow me work with the task force to help with providing food for YPLHIV to adhere to their medication” he said.
The RDC was very welcoming of this suggestion and forwarded it to the task force, allowing Micheal to not only distribute the food he had got from well-wishers but also directing that he gets the supplies from the task Force to buff up what he had.
“I was overjoyed. It looked like a big task at first but I needed this to happen for my peers. I pushed for it knowing it was important and I was very glad it passed” Micheal says with a wide smile.
Due to Micheal’s efforts, 300 adolescents and young people living with HIV received 5kgs of Maize flour and 3kgs of beans.
“The target is to supply nutrition support to 700 young people in Kasese. With 300 out of the way, we are motivated to advocate further and aid the remaining 400” he concluded.
UNYPA’s theme for this year is Changing The Narrative. With such a move by the Mr Y+, it is quickly being realised.

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Disclosure For A Closer Family

On Wednesday last week, Peter Mweru’s phone rang on a warm Mbale morning. The caller was an adolescent girl named Jackie*, whose concern was one Peter has got used to over the lockdown period; if he could help her access ARVs. Peter like many of our ambassadors was much obliged to help and in a short while was at her door with a delivery. She smiled gratefully and as she turned to go back into the house, her father stepped out.

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Let’s teach you a new way to greet

Yes, because staying safe is Paramount in this period, and on top of staying home we are making interventions for young people living with HIV to access health services. All over Uganda 🇺🇬, our ambassadors have been busy brokering health services 🏥 to their peers. Here’s an update

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