The Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) has unveiled the 8th edition of the Y+ beauty pageant campaign.
The campaign is aimed at fighting stigma and discrimination as well as addressing the structural drivers of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other HIV related issues against young people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
According to Ruth Awori, the Programs Manager UNYPA, the Y+ beauty pageant will run for three months under the theme ‘Opening the Opportunities’.
While launching the campaign at Serene Hotel on 10, Friday, Awori said that the theme seeks to utilize the available opportunities and create new innovations for young people living with HIV.
“This will enable HIV victims access medical services, create extra seats for them on forums to front issues that affect them,” she revealed
Awori noted that Covid-19 has been a driver affecting mental health among youths.
“Affected youths are at a high risk of contracting other diseases like Covid. Mental health is also one of the main issues we are focusing on and we need to ensure that the affected youths can advocate for others living with HIV during the Covid-19 pandemic season,” she said
Adding: “There is limited access to drugs, limited gatherings of victims which has led to anxiety, a lot of panic in the society and rise to suicidal cases.”
She further said that HIV victims also face a challenge of poor performance in schools.
“They keep missing school to go and pick medicines at the hospital which contributes to the poor performance in school. However we need to re-instil hope in the young people and reassure them that they can be successful in life,” Awori said
Representative Uganda Aids Commission Daniel Byabakama noted that the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the accomplishments that have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS among youths.
“We are engaging stakeholders to ensure that we bring HIV to the list of priorities. We need to put the youths at the forefront to enable them mobilize resources for their fellows,” he said
Miss Y+ 2020 Central, Namayanja Shirat said that the UNYPA mobile app has enabled youths to address their problems even in the lockdown period.
“We as ambassadors have also managed to deliver drugs to different households that have not been able to move to hospitals during the lockdown season. We get to know about their problems through the mobile app and we deliver to them,” she said
UNYPA is a youth-led and serving organisation providing leadership and coordination to the meaningful engagement of young people living with and affected by HIV in Uganda.
“We have organised the pageant for young people to re-echo their voices and build a strong productive generation. We will empower Y+ ambassadors both male and female as champions to challenge HIV related stigma, discrimination and GBVC within communities,” Nmayanja further revealed