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THE Y+ BEAUTY PAGEANT 2018; The Journey Begins

We have come a long way since the novice campaign was implemented way back in 2014. The Y+ Beauty pageant started out as an idea on paper by a team of pioneers; Diana Amanyire, head of youth and key populations at Marie Stopes International Uganda, Jacquelyn Alesi, former executive director UNYPA, Kagangure Philbert, and Braka.The first ever edition happened in central region, and only 10 participants came forth to take part in the campaign. It was unseen and many people held their reservations on the intervention (this is not to say that there is still a lot that things that the pageant is celebration of the disease). They decided to be the first young ladies and gentlemen to grace the campaign and be ambassadors of change. 4 Years down the road and the beauty pageant has nurtured over 100 young people with leadership, self-appreciation and advocacy skills. It is the only campaign that seeks to fight stigma and discrimination in the lives of young people living with HIV. The Y+ Pageant is an annual unique campaign that is geared towards ending stigma and discrimination on HIV It empowers young people with knowledge and advocacy skills that enable them lead the fight against the stigma. It is envisioned on Beauty with Zero discrimination because young people are stigmatized by their guardians, potential employers, relatives, and general public. This, in the long run affects their uptake of HIV services at health facilities, their adherence to drugs, and depression from fear to disclose. UNYPA therefore steps in to uplift the plight for all YPLHIV by working together to re-echo their voices and build a strong, creative and productive generation through the entire campaign. The reason we keep having this campaign like Alex Garner, an HIV Activist puts it “one of the best ways to fight stigma and empower HIV-positive people is by speaking out openly and honestly about who we are and what we experience”. Society today is shying away from dissemination as much information to young people on grounds that they will engage in sex. This is not true. Alternatively, an uninformed generation is an ignorant generation, and an ignorant generation is one that is prone to the risk of increasing new infections. The success stories from the young people that take part in the Y+ beauty pageant show that these young people grow and shine with this platform because firstly; they are shown that they are beautiful, encouraged to embrace themselves and lastly to adhere to their medications.

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