The first ever beauty contest of people living with HIV-AIDS, called Y+ has taken place in Uganda’s capital Kampala.
The chief guest at the function was none other than the first African Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe. Kazibwe made news in the world after becoming the first female vice president of Uganda in the 1990’s to the extent that even after leaving that office, she is still an international figure.
A statement issued by Wandira’s communications assistant, Deo Tumusiime, said that the function was very successful for the youth living with HIV-AIDS exposing their talents and beauty.
“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,” said Tumusiime. “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,” he added.
Tumusiime said that when the Guest of Honor, former Uganda Vice President Dr. Speciosa 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 the inaugural Y+ ceremony which is to become an annual event.
“What you are and what you have, no one else has, because you are unique,” Kazibwe said.
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.”
Sharifa Nalugo Kyomukama 19 years old 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.