CYWAG Media Team
Nadege Uwase Munyaburanga
I was born in August, 1989 and a native of Rwanda; in 1994 our family survived the Genocide against Tutsi. I tested HIV+ in May, 2007 when I was 17 years old. Knowing that I was HIV+ wasn’t an easy thing for me take in but I managed to gather up my strength in order to encourage other young people like me out there. My mother died of AIDS in 2001 which she had acquired from my Dad. I was born in a family of three; two boys and me and I was the only child diagnosed with the virus.
My status has taught me to love myself even more and to think of bigger projects that can lead to the development of young people in my country and in the region. Last year I got the chance to join the East African Youth Alliance on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (EAYA-SRHR) which enabled me to share networks with other youth in the region and seeing to it that I get involved in addressing the different SRHR needs of young people in the East African region. Young people have become my scope of work where I now feel devoted to advocate for their rights to different youth friendly SRHR & HIV services, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and capacity building through various positive change projects for these young people in order to have in the future comprehensive sexual reproductive health services that are affordable, accountable, acceptable, appropriate, physically accessible, of high quality and not non-stigmatizing to enable these young people to make informed, safe and healthier choices.
I am also working with other different civil society organizations in my country that include; Kigali Hope Association (KHA) as a program advisor, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA-RWANDA) as a Peer educator and Sustainable Health Enterprise (SHE-RWANDA) as an volunteer in the Reproductive Health department.
Cece is 17 years old. She is an adolescent who lives in the UK. Cece only recently began talking about HIV and its impact on her life, before then, she had never felt ready to open up and talk about being born with HIV. Cece is very passionate about getting the voices of children with HIV heard and listened to. Cece has taken part in campaigns to better the lives of children living with HIV in the UK and hopes to continue doing so. Cece believes that every child and young person deserves to have a voice and a platform in which they can speak out openly about their lives, instead of having to hide within a bubble of the stigmatized society which we live in.
I am a 26 year old Dominican born living in Barbados. I am currently pursuing a degree at the University of West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, in Politics Science Gender and Developmental Studies and I have an Associate Degree in Tourism and Hospitality. I was recently the youth representative of Barbados at the Caribbean ICW Leaders Workshop in Jamaica.
I am an active member of ICW Barbados and the Rotary Club of UWI Cave Hill Campus. Previously I was an executive member of the Dominica Student Association at UWI, a member of the Caribbean Health Leadership Programme Cohort 5. a former member of Code Red for Gender Justice at the University of the West Indies and a member of the Life Goes On Dominica Inc., and Non-Governmental Organisation helpings families both infected and affected copping with HIV/AIDS.
I enjoy meeting new people especially other who have more experience than I do in the field of HIV/AIDS. I strive to learn from them and help bring the challenges of women living with HIV/AIDS on the forefront.
My name is Lalchhuanzuali from Mizoram, India. I am 26 years old. I was only 18 and heavily pregnant when I found out that I have HIV at the Ante Natal Clinic in Aizawl. I could not believe my ears as I have never slept with anyone other than my husband and that my husband was free from drugs and have been faithful to me, or so I thought. To add to my dilemma, my husband then threw me out on that night denying completing that he was the one responsible for me getting infected with the virus. Frightened and disheveled I went back to my parent’s house who welcomes me with open arms.
I never hide my status, not in my family nor in my neighborhood. Luckily for me, people in my locality and churches accepted me as I am which I believe was one of the reasons I am able to cope with ‘living with an incurable disease’.
Through the years of working in this field, I saw that most of the people infected with the virus are from below the poverty line families, lowly educated and mostly feed on a day to day basis. Presently, I am the Project Coordinator for SARHAAH (Sexual Reproductive Health and Adolescence Health) which was funded by YWCA of India. On our past quarters, I work with Commercial Sex Worker, Men having Sex with Men, transgender, and HIV infected and affected people. Currently we are working on giving sexual education to the high risk population i.e the youth and children living with HIV. We organised various Sex Education Training at Schools, Church etc. We also organised Consultation for Children Living with HIV and also worked on youth focused awareness campaign through media, for example: Media Advocacy, Press Conference and Video Documentary Clip, Photography Competition.
Through my work, I have learnt that most women living with HIV are widowed. They had depended on their husband’s presence, thus making them helpless in their absence. They do not know how to generate income on their own which severely effect their household as well as their children’s education. Since positive women are also vulnerable towards Cervical Cancer, a free Pap Smear Test would be helpful to prevent Cancer. It also hurt me to see many HIV positive failed to received Hep C Treatment due to its expensive cost. A lower or free Hep C Treatment for positive will save a lot of lives.
I am happy today because God has put me in a position where I can help those who cannot help themselves, yes I also faced lots of challenges but with God I challenge my limit and never let my limit challenges me.
Feli is a young widow living with HIV/AIDS for almost 7 years since the time of her HIV detection. She has been working in HIV field for about 7 years in pioneering grassroots work and top-level in the State Level and in the National Level. She was born and continues to live in Mizoram, one of the North Eastern State of India. She was one of the first people to disclose her HIV status in this particular village where HIV awareness is very poor. She did this because cannot tolerate the quiet but loud discrimination and stigma surrounding HIV and her life in the village. She started sensitizing the Churches, the society, educational institutions etc., to bring the right and correct information about HIV to the general population, she educates and informed people that HIV does not only happened to HGRs but also to innocent people, HIV does not discriminate rich or poor it can happen to anybody if the person is not well informed or aware about it. She has become a vocal advocate and positive speakers for both prevention of the spread of HIV and helping the PLHIV community and encouraging other PLHIV not to spread the virus, not to be ashamed and to seek treatment and lead fulfilling lives. She is also the Secretary of the Positive Women Network, and a para legal volunteer in the legal aid clinic.
My name is Sarah Feagan and I have been living with HIV since 2008.
I’m currently chair of Positive Women (Victoria) PWV, a sex educator in high schools and community and health worker training session's all around the state.
I have just completed facilitator training and am about begin co-facilitation on a group called Phoenix, a support network for women newly diagnosed or women who haven't engaged yet.
I’m a volunteer peer support worker for PWV and full time broader community educated, (like many of us). Also part of the many amazing PLDI alumni's.
My personal passion in the sector are drug users, sex workers, trans women and young women. I really hope to see great gains in these areas globally and am on the ground advocating and supporting when ever I can.
Lucy Wanjiku is Kenyan advocate for issues of HIV and is vocal on matters of ALHIV rights as well as YPLHIV. She believes HIV does not define you and do not limit your potential as an individual. Using her story, she advocates for the need of psychosocial support from us women ourselves. Being our sister's keeper. Therefore, she recommends every woman who is at a higher place in growth to take up someone growing under her wing. Mentorship is the best way of ensuring that no one is left behind. If every woman who has been in the HIV world was to take two to five mentees, be their encouragement, be their guide and their 'mother', it would ensure every other young woman is growing empowered and has lesser chances of getting early pregnancy, defaulting among other gaps. Today she encourages you to take up the challenge and be a keeper.
Lilian Akinyi Odhach
I am Lilian Akinyi Odhach 28 years old and a young woman living with HIV, I was infected in 2010 from a man who promised to marry me and we were going to have a church wedding. I have now accepted my status and living positively. I am young woman’s sexual and reproductive health advocate, peer educator, and Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention (PHDP) facilitator. The advocacy issues that I am most interested in are: to increase participation in advocacy for improved access to HIV prevention and treatment interventions for ALHIV and young women; increase demand for access to sexual reproductive health options and improve the quality of life of ALHIV and young women; to increase participation of ALHIV and young women to participate in decision making structures.
L’Orangelis Thomas Negron
L’Orangelis Thomas Negron was born, rise and currently lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She’s 27 years old, which is the exactly the same time she has been living with HIV, and she’s also Dominican. During her adolescence she was a peer orientator at her middle school, during her first years at university she provided sexual orientation workshops to her classmates, and officially started activism in 2008 by joining to decision making spaces, and openly started living with HIV. She had work with PR CoNCRA, Jornada de Amor, and actually works with Taller Salud, a feminist CBO, as a Community Educator and HIV Counselor.
Lory is a blogger, studies Anthropology, and is part of the Positive Youth Network of Latin American & Hispanic Caribbean (J+LAC). Also part from the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW), collaborates with Athena Network and others networks lead by people living with HIV, and/or women. She was part of the Global Reference Group for the Global Consultation on SRHR of Women Living with HIV for the World Health Organization (WHO), and participated in several conferences, meetings and agendas.