Hoima’s HIV positive Kemigisa endures queer nicknames, becomes resilient exemplar

Ms Barbra Kemigisa, an HIV/AIDS activist cum Executive Director Barbra Kemigisa Foundation – a charity organisation taking care of youth living with HIV in Hoima City. (Image: Gad Asaba/Kazi-njema News)

Barbra Kemigisa, a resident of Kyentale Cell in East Division, Hoima City has thus far suffered humiliation from unthoughtful people who nicknamed her due to her HIV positive status before she learned how to weather it.

As Uganda joined the rest of the world to mark the annual World AIDS Day that falls on December 1, the 36-year-old HIV/AIDS activist told Kazi-njema News that she has passed through a dire trajectory of life upsetting experience as inconsiderate people nickname her “rotten avocado” as well as “moving dead” because of living with the virus.

Going through a health sticky patch molded Kemigisa into a resilient person so she could weather the excruciating psychological and mental pain experience especially when she became a laughing stock amidst her already downcast life due to the incurable disease.

However, while in her dismal mood, she contemplated that out of something unpleasant, one can get something pleasurable and valuable for all. This was when she started putting on an attire labelled ‘avocado,’ to manage the stigma she was going through.

Kemigisa’s experience sent her reflection miles away when she thought that there were young people deep in rural areas who were suffering the same stigma and discrimination like she did.

This drove her into envisaging assisting them so they can also deal with the stigma positively through a constant reminder of building self-esteem among themselves and encouraging them to be enterprising by borrowing a leaf from HIV positive people who have success stories in their life in diversity.

Audio: Kemigisa on humiliation (English)

Kemigisa establishes that there are many HIV positive young girls who dropped out of school at too an early stage because of humiliation that currently they cannot write and have resorted to prostitution considering themselves worthless yet they can be resourceful and contribute to national development.

Audio: Kemigisa on young girls (English)

The activist who is also the Executive Director of Barbra Kemigisa Foundation – a charity organisation taking care of youth living with HIV at Kidaiko cell in East Division, Hoima city says the young HIV positive girls are engaged in a number of activities so they can feel healthy in body and mind as they do their daily work normally like other people.

Kemigisa adds that due to their HIV positive status, some young girls fell out with their parents but after counselling them, the two parties reconciled and are interacting freely for a healthy life.

She urges all stakeholders to join hands and fight stigma perpetrated on people living with HIV.

Audio: Kemigisa on activities (English)

Statistics

According to data from the US embassy in Uganda, an estimated 1.5 million people are living with HIV in Uganda with more than 1,361,000 currently enrolled on treatment as of September 2022 and more than 1,162,000 people had viral suppression.

The infection rate of young women aged 15-24 is three times higher than that of their male counterparts.

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