A group of young people both infected and affected by HIV are using their talent to create awareness about HIV. The group formed a music band comprised of 16 members who yearn to create a better environment for their fellow ‘young positives’ and everyone affected by HIV/AIDS.
Gloria Nawanyaga, a Law student at Uganda Christian University and the founder of the Young Positives (Y+) music band and the Young Positives Foundation revealed that they use their various talents to create a positive impact in society.
“We believe that young people living with HIV have talents and can explore them. Most people think that such people are very vulnerable and can’t do anything. Our major objective is to develop talent and also give young people living with HIV an opportunity and platform to meaningfully explore their talents through entertainment,” she added.
Nawanyaga also revealed that through entertainment, the message put out involves advocating against stigma and discrimination, HIV awareness, reproductive health and rights, sexuality rights, self awareness, influencing policies as well as improving the livelihoods of people living with HIV.
“We also provide psycho social support through edutainment and mental health awareness because we realised that the mental health issue is becoming a big problem especially among people living with HIV so we make awareness about them,” she explained.
The band provides information on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, sexual violence and also empowers the victims to speak up.
“We also amplify young people’s voices through advocacy in the health sector and public sector. We so far have 4 songs on the album; including ‘Rise up’, a song that calls everyone to rise up and fight against HIV and actively participate in the HIV response according to the agenda of ending AIDS by 2030. The ‘This is me’ cover song encourages young people to accept who they are because they cannot change their health status. Other songs are Fight HIV and Ebenezer,” Nawanyaga said.
These young people also came up with the Young Positives Foundation which was started to help out others who are experiencing difficulties as they live through the effects of HIV/AIDS.
“We empower, educate and inspire young people living with HIV in rural and slum areas. We help them with knowledge on how to live a positive life and also provide them with little basic needs that we can afford because most of them can’t even afford a single meal a day. So, we solicit funds and reach out to them. Most of them are orphans; their parents died of HIV so it’s heart-breaking that they can’t access education yet it’s their right,” Nawanyaga.
“I believe that when people are educated, most of these challenges can be eliminated. For instance the HIV spread; since they can be able to protect themselves and others if they are positive.”
Their biggest challenge has been insufficient funds, which hinders them from reaching out to people who need basic needs and education.