Reach a hand Uganda (RAHU) has partnered with international University of East Africa (IUEA), Galaxy fm, Movit, See TV, Global Livingston Institute(GLI), kiss condoms, AIDS healthcare foundation(AHF), Global down syndrome foundation among other organisations and companies in order to not only create HIV/AIDs awareness but end the global AIDS epidemic by 2030.
On world AIDS day, 1st December, Reach a hand Uganda launched the 2021 HIV/AIDS awareness campaign dubbed “iKnowKati ” under the theme ‘Ending the HIV epidemic. Confronting inequalities’ which is slated to run for a week in December from 1st to 7th within districts of Kampala, Kasese, Hoima Rwampara, Kabale and Adjumani.
The objectives of this campaign revolves around ending inequalities, equipping at-risk audiences of youth with accurate information about HIV/AIDS and their sexual reproductive health.
Through comedy, music and arts, the campaign aims to communicate HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention to the young people by speaking the language of music with celebrated Ugandan musicians. Day 3 of the iKnowKati activities kicked off at IUEA grounds with key stakeholder dialogues which included a panel of young people living with HIV hosted by Mr. Henry, galaxy FM’s mid morning tukone presenter and Benson Muhindo, Head of programs RAHU.
The vice chancellor of IUEA, Professor Emeka Akaezuwa in the presence of his curious students and the university Resident Director, Mr. Hassan Alwi, happily welcomed the guests. He assured them that IUEA is a stigma free environment with absolutely no discrimination or racism. He went ahead to state how Reach a hand and IUEA has supported the young people especially the young women.
“We provide a safe environment for our staff and students to thrive in a stigma free environment…we support the girl child, we give scholarships, we nurture our young men and women.” Emeka said.
Barbra Kasekende, corporate social investment manager, Stanbic bank also echoed the issue of teenage pregnancies over HIV mostly in rural areas where parents marry off their girls at a tender age.
“I visit at least 100 districts a year and sadly it is teenage pregnancies between the ages of 12 to 15, HIV is not even a problem anymore.” She narrated.
One of the key stakeholders for the day was Dr. Daniel Byamukama, Head HIV prevention, Uganda Aids Commission. He disclosed the statistics of HIV in Uganda and singled out the issues women have gone through in the society. He advised the young people to take personal initiative to protect themselves from HIV and stand up to hold their leaders accountable for the rampant inequalities in the society in order to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
“Out of the 38 Million people living with HIV in the world, about 1.5 million are in Uganda, however the prevalence varies by region and district…Gender inequality is a key issue fueling HIV in Uganda, Statistics indicate that 62% of the people living with HIV are Women.”
“There are so many policies aimed at addressing the inequalities you are talking about today, we must come up with a plan, how do we hold the government, stakeholders and our leaders accountable to ensure that the policies are implemented.” Dr. Byamukama told the young people.
The panel comprised of four confident young people living with HIV, Ssali Jeremiah (Mr. Y+), Ruth Namutebi(HIV activist RAHU), Atim Stephanie(feminist and a lawyer) and Helen Amutuhaire. They boldly discussed how HIV has affected them, how society has discouraged and under looked them and how Covid-19 has affected their health.
“Each negativity you throw at us, discourages us. Let’s try to stand and help these people who are negative…I believe in this generation, we can change the story by 2030.” Jeremiah, Mr.Y+ Central said.
They also called upon the government and society to support them and advised the young people living with HIV not to give up on medications.
“Set an alarm to take your ARVs, have a balanced diet, I have been undetectable for over 4 years, I used to have scars on my skin, but now I’m better. ARVs can drain you if you don’t eat well.” Ruth Namutebi, HIV activist RAHU.
The day was wrapped at iKnow Kati Music Concert by energetic performances from celebrated Ugandan musicians, comedians and cultural dancers among which was Spice Diana, Karole Kasita, Ykee Benda, gospel artist Levixon, Dre Cali, Comedians Madrat and Chiko, Jaja Bruce and Wembley Mo foundation dancers.
Spice Diana advised the young people to abstain and use condoms after her remarkable performance. “I use condoms, I abstain, I don’t have HIV” she proudly said.
“I believe each one of you here has had someone or a relative who has died of HIV, hold up your candles.” NBS after five host, MC Kats sadly told the crowd during a candle light moment in memory of all the lives lost to HIV and specifically the late father of Humphrey Nabimanya, Founder of Reach a hand Uganda.
Under the iKnowKati HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, RAHU peer educators continue to carry out community outreaches in different parts of Uganda through door to door condom distribution and sex education which will aim at raising awareness about
HIV/AIDS prevention, increasing the number of people that know their HIV status and reducing the
stigmatization of people living with HIV as a way of getting to the zero new infection generation.
IUEA Reporter: Evaline Alum