CategoriesAfNHI Blog

Adherence To Art Medication And Challenges Faced By Young People Living With HIV

On July 29, 2023, a gathering of young individuals living with HIV became a beacon of strength and support. This support group session was dedicated to addressing the vital topics of antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence and the challenges faced by young people in accessing HIV services. It provided a safe haven for these resilient souls to exchange experiences, coping strategies, and tales of triumph over adversity. With 24 participants, including eight from the LGBTQIA community, the session was a testament to the power of community and shared resilience.

Session Highlights:

This support group session was an active dialogue, allowing participants to open their hearts and minds freely. Here are the key takeaways:

ART Experiences and Coping Mechanisms:

Participants emphasized the paramount importance of adhering to ART medication for maintaining their health. They shared their personal journeys, shedding light on the various coping mechanisms they’ve employed to navigate challenges such as medication side effects, stigma, and emotional well-being. The session became a platform for these young warriors to exchange strategies and provide mutual support, nurturing a sense of belonging and empowerment.

Challenges in Accessing Services:

The challenges in accessing HIV services emerged as a significant theme. Participants identified barriers such as limited access to healthcare facilities, lack of awareness about available services, and the persistent specter of discrimination and stigma. The LGBTQIA community members shared their unique experiences, unveiling additional layers of obstacles they face. The session encouraged participants to voice their concerns and collectively brainstorm potential solutions.

Success Stories and Achieving Low Detectable Levels:

The session was not just a platform for sharing challenges; it was also a stage for showcasing success stories. Participants narrated their journeys of ART adherence, culminating in the achievement of low detectable levels of HIV infection. These stories served as beacons of inspiration and motivation for others facing similar trials. The session underscored the pivotal role of support networks, healthcare provider relationships, and self-care practices in achieving positive health outcomes.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this support group session on ART adherence and challenges in accessing HIV services was a powerful forum for young individuals to pool their wisdom and experiences. It illuminated the ongoing need for support, awareness, and advocacy to address the unique hurdles faced by young people living with HIV. By fostering a sense of community and empowerment, the session aimed to ignite a spirit of resilience, encouraging participants to maintain their ART adherence and strive for low detectable levels of HIV infection. In these voices, we find the strength to triumph over adversity, inspiring hope for a brighter future in the face of HIV.

Kelvin Njoroge

AfNHi Youth Cohort Mentee 2023

CategoriesAfNHI Blog

Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Uganda to Combat Workplace Harassment

Recent findings from a study conducted in Uganda reveal alarming statistics: one in three Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) have suffered physical or sexual abuse, while an even more distressing one in two have experienced sexual harassment. This pervasive violence against AGYW poses a grave concern that demands immediate attention. Such acts of violence not only inflict physical and emotional trauma but also lead to financial hardships, hindering AGYW’s ability to pursue education, employment, and a healthy life.

 

Addressing this pressing issue, ACTS101 Uganda partnered with UGANENT LAW to organize an empowering event titled “Empowerment to Power,” specifically targeting young women in the workplace. The primary objective of this engagement was to empower AGYW, enabling them to voice their concerns and advocate for measures against workplace violence and abuse. Additionally, it aimed to raise awareness regarding the pervasive issue of violence targeting AGYW in employment settings.

 

Understanding Body Autonomy and Gender-Based Violence (GBV):

Mrs. Bridget N. Jjuuko, Executive Director of ACTS101 Uganda, initiated the event with a crucial presentation highlighting the significance of body autonomy. Body autonomy emphasizes an individual’s right to make choices about their body without fear of violence or coercion. During the presentation, the six core types of gender-based violence (GBV) were discussed in detail:

  1. Physical Violence
  2. Verbal Violence
  3. Psychological Violence
  4. Harassment and Sexual Violence
  5. Socio-Economic Violence
  6. Domestic Violence

 

Sharing Personal Experiences:

Following Mrs. Jjuuko’s presentation, AGYW participants were encouraged to share their personal experiences of workplace violence. These stories unveiled the heart-wrenching reality of their daily struggles. For instance:

– One young woman recounted how her boss frequently made inappropriate comments about her appearance, creating an uncomfortable work environment.

– Another young woman revealed that her boss had demanded a kiss, and upon her refusal, unjustly terminated her employment.

– A third young woman, who identifies as transgender, disclosed being physically assaulted by a client.

 

Understanding Legal Framework and Rights:

The sharing of experiences led to a constructive discussion about the legal framework concerning sexual harassment. Ms. Shakira, a lawyer from UGANENT LAW, advised AGYW participants to carefully review their employment contracts and become aware of their rights. She emphasized the importance of maintaining a journal to document any incidents of harassment and encouraged participants to confide in trusted friends or family members about their experiences.

 

Charting the Path Forward:

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The engagement concluded with a session dedicated to charting a path forward. AGYW participants proposed several actionable steps to address workplace GBV effectively:

 

  1. Development of a one-page information sheet on GBV within every organization.
  2. Creation of a standard GBV manual tailored to AGYW, facilitating training and awareness.
  3. Drafting a petition to raise awareness about GBV.
  4. Collaboration among civil society organizations to collectively combat this pressing issue.

Conclusion:

The “Empowerment to Power” engagement served as a valuable platform for AGYW to share their workplace harassment experiences and gain insights into their rights. Although significant work remains in addressing this pervasive problem, this event marked a crucial step forward. By empowering AGYW to stand against workplace sexual harassment, we aim to build a more just and equitable society for all, recognizing that AGYW represent the future of Uganda.

Victoria Nalweyiso

AfNHi Youth Mentee 2023

CategoriesGFAN Africa

Unite Africa Solidarity: Fostering Unity and Support for Uganda’s LGBTQ+ Community

In the heart of a virtual gathering on July 26th, 2023, a powerful movement unfolded – united African advocates in solidarity with our comrades in Uganda. Advocates from diverse corners of Africa united for a common cause: standing in solidarity with Uganda’s marginalized LGBTQ+ community. This was no ordinary day; it was an extraordinary assembly of voices, ideas, and passion, aimed at combating the discriminatory Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 that was  passed on 29 May 2023.

Amid the global pursuit to end AIDS by 2030, Uganda emerged as a beacon of progress in the fight against HIV. However, the recent enactment of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 threatens to undo these hard-fought gains. The Act, laden with severe punishments including the death penalty for homosexuality, has cast a shadow over marginalized communities, particularly the LGBTQ+ individuals who are already grappling with prejudice.

Comrades from diverse corners of Africa mobilized for a Regional Day of Action – a resounding call for unity, awareness, and advocacy. Comrades across Africa rallied to express their unwavering support for Uganda’s LGBTQ+ community and to highlight the far-reaching repercussions of the Act on public health and human rights.

In a remarkable display of unity, community representatives, civil society organizations, activists, and stakeholders convened in South Africa’s Uganda High Commission. Here, stories and testimonies were shared, illustrating the real impact of discriminatory legislation on public health efforts. The gathering wasn’t just about discussing challenges; it was a testament to the resilience of those standing against oppression.

These very same stories were amplified virtually and the flame of solidarity extended beyond borders. Throughout the region, a virtual Twitterthon resonated with messages of support, using social media as a dynamic platform to amplify the voices of unity and advocacy.\ddd

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Comrades from Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, and beyond joined hands, united in the digital realm.

With the vigor of a rallying cry, an advocacy campaign was launched. Policymakers, health authorities, and international organizations were engaged in a coordinated effort to apply pressure on the Ugandan government to repeal the Act and uphold the values of human rights and inclusivity.

The climax of this regional day of action was with the Virtual Extraordinary Meeting. Comrades gathered to debrief on the Regional Day of Action, gain insights from the Uganda Representative about the ground situation, and discuss the legal perspective on the Act. Allies from various sectors – the LGBTQ+ Community, Religious Leaders, Sonke Gender Justice, Policy Makers, and NGO Delegation to GF Board – expressed unwavering support and solidarity.

This union of voices, ideas, and determination paints a vivid picture of unity in diversity. The struggle against discriminatory laws is not isolated to Uganda alone; it echoes across the continent. Our call to all African Governments is to uphold the dignity and fundamental rights of their citizens .

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Appreciation goes out to the planning partners 

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CategoriesAfNHI Blog

Engage online toward the High-level Meeting on UHC – #UHCHLM

Here we are: the UN High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UN HLM on UHC) is only 2 weeks away! This is a major opportunity to reinvigorate progress toward #HealthForAll. And everyone can engage to raise their voice! Here are 3 ways you can mobilize online ⬇️ #UHCHLM Engagement

1️⃣Countdown to the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC – Online Campaign

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Ahead of the High-level meetings in New york,  join UHC advocates from all around the world for a final online campaign on #UHCHLM. From 11 to 20 September, the campaign will focus on a specific action area from the UHC Action Agenda, to call for concrete actions following the adoption of the  2023 Political Declaration on UHC.

To participate:

  • Download the calendar here
  • Engage via your social media channels – following  CSEM (@CSOs4UHC) and UHC2030 (@UHC2030) on x.com (former Twitter), and on LinkedIn (UHC2030)

Visit the UHC2030 website for more information.

2️⃣Participate in the online Chat on Leaving No One Behind

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On September 12, 3-3:30 pm CET / 9-9.30 am ET, UHC2030 and CSEM will coordinate a #UHCHLM chat on x.com (formerly known as Twitter) on leaving no one behind.

This online chat is an opportunity to mobilize the UHC movement and rally a diverse audience behind UHC.

We invite you to engage in this short chat and take the opportunity to share and elevate key messages, resources and best practices. Please find here more information, and the 5 questions that will be asked: https://csemonline.net/event/uhchlm-chat-about-leaving-no-one-behind/

3️⃣ Stay up to date on the latest information on #UHCHLM: 

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CategoriesAfNHI Blog

Empowering Youth Advocacy for Global Health

In the heart of vibrant Nairobi, a dynamic gathering of 30 young individuals came together in August 2023. These were the champions of tomorrow, belonging to the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) cohort. Their mission: to mark World Youth Skills Day with a bang, celebrating the boundless potential of young minds and their pivotal role in shaping our global health future.

This gathering had a clear purpose, and its objectives set the stage for exciting engagement outcomes.

  • The participants were on a quest to make the world resonate with the advocacy efforts of the DAPI Ring, both on a national and global scale.
  • Foster Inclusivity:- They sought to create an inclusive dialogue, a movement that would resonate far and wide, powered by WithMeInMe.
  • Introducing the Choice Manifesto:- An introduction to the Choice Manifesto was on the agenda, igniting the spark of change.

Advocacy on the DAPI Ring: In the spotlight was the imperative of accurate information, dispelling myths, and the fight for free and accessible HIV prevention tools. Also highlighted was the progress of the CATALYST studies in Kenya and the progress of the activation sites to date.

 

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Skills and Empowerment: The power of advocacy skills and communication took center stage. Social media emerged as a mighty weapon for spreading awareness. Evidence-based advocacy was highlighted as a critical tool in modern day advocacy. The participants went ahead and brainstormed around various ways digital media advocacy can amplify the call for inclusion of the DAPI Ring on the HIV Prevention basket of choice.

LGBTQI Inclusivity: The discussions ripped through stigmas, championing equality. Discussions illuminated a critical imperative: dismantling stigmas and dispelling misconceptions surrounding LGBTQI communities. The spotlight was on promoting acceptance and nurturing inclusivity within HIV prevention programs. In this narrative of change, education and awareness emerged as potent catalysts for fostering equality. This collective insight resounded loudly, underscoring the WithMeInMe campaign as a vital platform for meaningful dialogue. It hammered home the urgency of inclusivity and the indispensable role of education in propelling effective change within the realm of HIV prevention efforts.

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Global Fund Writing Process:Ruth Jerop, AYAREP Executive Director and a community representative on the Kenya Coordinating Mechanism (KCM), graced us with an update on the Global Fund writing process. She stressed the critical need for the Dapivirine (DAPI) ring, citing past challenges faced by interventions like PEPFAR in effectively combating HIV. Jerop emphasized that the DAPI ring’s potential to empower individuals to take control of their bodies and sexual health has not been fully realized. Urgency looms, and addressing the roadblocks is crucial. She called for a thorough examination and rectification of these hindrances, ensuring that the Global Fund’s financial resources lead to a comprehensive, culturally sensitive implementation strategy.  As she concluded her address, Ruth appealed to the young audience to grasp the challenges faced by different demographics to enable the advocacy to be evidence-led. 

In the end, this electrifying gathering was a rallying cry for action. The Youth advocates pledged their dedication to HIV prevention, inclusivity, and the continued advocacy of the DAPI Ring. The Choice Manifesto launch scheduled for September 2023 lays a promising secure and effective discussions around the HIV Prevention Choice agenda regionally.

AfNHi Secretariat

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