Empowering girls and young women to end HIV by Ester Kabasambo, Uganda
Updated: Sep 18
Many young girl's dream to grow up and get a family. But when it comes to girls and young women who are living with HIV it's a different case. We are always scared that they won't find someone to love them because of their HIV status.
We are living in communities which judge a lot, rather than supporting. When people look at girls and young women living with HIV they immediately think they got HIV from fornication. Even if this is true (because young women do have sex and this is why we need talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights early) again, we should not be judgemental but rather supportive. Young women face a lot of complications in acquiring services and this is because the service providers are also judgemental they always blame these girls because of their HIV status.
If a girl becomes pregnant they start by judging her and this sometimes hinders her access to information and services because of her own fear of the judgement from healthcare providers. This can be a threat to the unborn baby and the young mother herself.
If we want to end HIV by 2030 we need to support girls and young women by empowering them to practice positive prevention. Positive prevention is where the people who are already living with HIV are empowered to be able to tell their sexual partners about their status without shame or fear of losing them. This helps not only people to know their HIV status, but also they can help their partner who is not positive to protect them from getting the virus with combined efforts.
If girls and young women are empowered, it will give them courage to disclose their status without fear and this will help reduce HIV new infections and therefore we shall be able to end HIV. This will also help young women to go for antenatal health services and therefore they will be able to produce HIV free babies and they will be able to be guided on how to look after them I.e. breastfeeding them and how they can care for them to remain HIV free.
Mothers are a strong pillar of the family and if they are empowered they will be able to educate their children and husband about the right information related to HIV. They will also help to educate the community on the measures on how to prevent HIV because empowered women are respected in the community.
Thank you for your generous support for the ICW Young Women's Media Team.