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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Ever Beauty Pageant for Young Positives in Africa

Press Release:
Kampala, Uganda:
As the young men and women took to the stage to showcase their talent, no one except the event organizers could tell their HIV Status. Their blazing faces beaming with a future captivated the cheering audience, a reassurance to everyone that contracting HIV/AIDS was no more a death sentence as it were in yesteryears. 

And when the Guest of Honor, former Uganda Vice President Dr. Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe took to the stage to make her remarks, the message was clear-cut; “You are very beautiful, very handsome”, she told the hundreds of youth gathered for this year’s Y+ Beauty Pageant at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala (Aug 29). “What you are and what have, no one else has, because you are unique”, she added. The Y+ Pageant concept, the first of its kind on the African Continent, was developed by a team of actors to celebrate Beauty with Zero Discrimination, in essence, to fight stigma.

Dr. Speciosa re-assured the youth that “Sex is the most pleasurable thing you can ever have”, but regretted the fact that many people do not want to talk about it. She shared her experience when as minister for Youth in the early ‘90s, she was castigated by the Church and Mothers’ Unions for speaking out openly about the use of Condoms, yet people continued to die due to unprotected sex. She commended the youth for carrying forward her cause, and said to them, “Count me in your struggle”. 

Dr. Speciosa is one of the first Champions against HIV/AIDS in Africa and until recently, served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on the same cause.

In his remarks, the Chairman Uganda Aids Commission Prof. Vinand Nantulya had no kind words for members of Parliament agitating for the criminalization of HIV/AIDS. “Criminalizing HIV/AIDS is wrong, unacceptable and nonsensical. MPs made a mistake and we’ll not let them go away with it”, he said angrily. “The issue of intentional infection is nonsense,"  he emphasized.

The annual function also doubled as a fundraising for a Youth Centre aimed at empowering young people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS with life skills and guidance; and inspiring them to contribute to both social and economic development. It was organized by Marie Stopes Uganda (MSU), Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) and HIV Bible Movement (HBM). Dr. Speciosa contributed 2 Million Uganda Shillings towards the Youth Centre project.

Sharifa Nalugo Kyomukama (19 years ) and Ronald Juan Kaganda (20 years) emerged Miss and Mr. Y+ respectively .The Winners (Mr. and Miss Y+) will be Ambassadors for the Zero campaign that will spearhead National campaigns towards “Getting to Zero” – Zero new HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination, and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths. They will also represent the Y+ team at high level meetings and workshops.

Tumusiime K. Deo
Communications Assistant to
Dr. Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe
Member, African Union Panel of the Wise (PoW);
Senior Presidential Adviser Population & Health/
Vice President Emeritus-Republic of Uganda

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