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Candlelight memorial - coming up every May

Just wanted to share my response with the community and hailing the transgender women living with HIV and their effort to curb HIV

Also to note that Beyonce is a member of the Board of ICW-EA . She is also a member of the Board on African Sex Workers Alliance. She was introduced to us though Dr. Watiti in 2010 then Board Chair NAFOPHANU who at the time felt we needed the team more involved in the PLHIV constituency to see how they can be supported too.

Beyonce has been working tirelessly to mobilise other PLHIV in her community to access ARVs and related services.
She recently organised a sensitisation meeting for the team having invited Reach out to provide them with basic facts on HIV and how they can prevent further transmission and for the negatives what they can do to prevent acquisition of HIV. For GCOWAU this far surpasses her/their sexual identity. They are human being first even when some of us have transphobia or call it homophobia. Beyonce has actually held on the hand her colleagues and taken them to TASO and other HIV centres to start on care - ARVS.

Also NAFOPHANU found them useful and happened to work with them to mobilise transgender community as they organised the HIV stigma index survey. NAFOPHANU saw them as very useful resource and welcomed then.

Beyonce and team have been active members of CAAT and given us insight into the challenges they meet in accessing HIV actually have given us a list of people - Health workers or otherwise that have been traumatising them. Some of them we have approached and their attitudes that were conservative have since disappeared. They realized transgender women are people in our own households even when we think they do not exist.

Beyonce and GCOWAU have supported the group of transgender women sex-workers to mobilise funds for social support but also in the process of resources fundraising for small income projects. Some of her team members names undisclosed have decided to quit sex worker on realisation of the dangers of sex on their lives and the job on their adherence to treatment.

Beyonce has participates in national HIV activities including the Joint AIDS Review and Partnership Forum and World AIDs Day activities. She openly shares the plight of transgender women in Uganda especially those in sex work and Living with HIV.

Beyonce and team organised a peaceful walk/demonstration of International Women Day even police did not arrest them. they worked with FOWODE and told the world they exist and must be recognised. Police is a government entity.

As we speak now there is another member in urgent need of home based care. If we are transphobic how do we manage the epidemic. Together we share the challenge - is Uganda AIDs Commision Slogan/theme on every policy action, programme and monitoring they do.

Also as we plan for PLHIV lets remember HIV prevalence among MSM is 13.7% and among sex workers is 34%. PLHIV accessing ARVs now are only a mre 416,000 instead of 700,000. So who are we to discriminate if HIV does not discriminate!!!!!!!! Impressive her father accepted her. Also true to a real mother and father whatever your son or daughter does, good or bad, is she/he remains yours you do not pretend. you as a mother and father you are willing to go an extra mile to support him/her to change.

As we commemorate Candle light memorial day lets remember that people that died and thank God for their lives but also lets remember what decisions we as chief executives, peers, policy makers, relatives, family members have contributed to lead to the death of PLHIV. In this vein therefore I wish to hold in high esteem - Grace Namuyomba(RIP) the candle that lit Eastern region, Florence Mahoro - Long time AIC PLI/AIC Coordinator (RIP), Francis Maganda - Jinja (RIP), and several other PLHIV activists and advocates that rose above discrimination to support others in need.

I live with HIV and support everyone with HIV whether catholic, muslim, heterosexual, homosexual or transgender. For me we are all human beings first. When we started NAFOPHANU we started a forum of PLHIV and i do not remember seeing a waiver regarding personal beliefs/attitudes a barrier to membership. We wanted to have PLHIV of Uganda protected and supported. I trust NAFOPHANU is above stigma and homophobia . The 1.300.000 million we sing about in the workshops and meetings are real faces of PLHIV and among them are Catholics, divorced, widowers, widows, persons with disability, elderly, discordant, women, men, youth, babies, transgender, MSM, Homosexual, inter sex, professionals, name it

People in government and non government say people different from them or of different gender identity and sexual identity are sinners, how about you going out with someones husband/wife, how about the child molesters, trafickers, how about the funds for AIDS and PLHIV we swindle daily, how about abuse - silence, negligence and omissions in your own family and work. God came for sinners not the righteous and If its a sin lets first remove the log from our own eyes before we see a speck in our friends eyes. Remember at the end of the world we shall all see God face to face and you may be surprised that some people we think are sinners are even holier than us. Lets not hide behind religion to assume holier than thou attitudes.

Keep up the spirit to unlock the biased and transphobic, soon you will overcome, even PLHIV were shunned in the 80's, 90's but to date people are running to work with us and see how much we can make the HIV response more cost effective. We are with you do not hesitate to contact us for any further support fro you or your team.

Together for a positive difference! Lets lock our mindsets in the lockers!

Flavia Kyomukama

Also a colleague wrote

http://www.aidsalliance.org/NewsDetails.aspx?Id=291504

Transgender people endure rape, discrimination in healthcare services, and harassment from the police and prison officers. Many transgender people are rejected by their families and miss out on educational opportunities, leaving some with no option but sex work to support themselves. Sexual violence towards transgender people and transgender sex workers put the community at a higher risk of HIV infection.

Beyonce’s organisation is taking the first steps to fight back against these daily human rights violations. This is no easy task in an environment where campaigners live with the very real threat of violence and murder. “Ugandan activism is life and death” Beyonce explains, “as you can see from David Kato [the LGBT activist who was murdered in 2011]”.

Beyonce started the organisation after she found a lack of recognition and representation of the unique needs of the trangender people, “Transgender issues were being neglected by the Ugandan LGB [lesbian gay and bisexual] movement and transgender sex workers’ issues were being ignored by the commercial sex work movement” she says. Transgender Equality Uganda is only just starting out, but Beyonce is hopeful that as the organisation grows it will be able to build links with the international transgender movement, and learn from the approaches that have worked in other countries.

Beyonce knows from experience that deeply held beliefs about sexuality can be challenged and minds can be changed. Recently she has reconnected with her father, who had previously shunned her.“As I grew up I felt more and more like a woman, and my dad rejected me so I moved to Kampala” she explains. Unable to find any other employment, Beyonce became a sex worker at the age of 16. During this time she experienced violence and harassment from clients and the police. After her father fell ill, Beyonce returned home, “I looked after him until he was well, I was able to pay his hospital bills through the money I made doing sex work. It was because of this that my father forgave me and accepted me. He was ignorant before and that’s why he rejected me”.

Beyonce is firm in her belief that education is the answer to fighting discrimination. She plans to interview her father for a documentary and use the story in her advocacy work. “We need to educate the government, doctors and the health system. If you educate them, they will learn” she says.The work of groups representing sexual minorities is made all the more difficult by the Ugandan government’s proposed ‘Anti Homosexuality Bill’ which threatens to introduce severe punishments for people perceived as homosexual and will potentially have a devastating impact on the country’s HIV response “We must fight this bill and educate the Ugandan government that sexual identity is not a crime”.

Beyonce visited the UK in February 2013 as part of the Student Stop AIDS Campaign’s speaker tour, which gives activists from the field the opportunity to share their stories across the country at parliamentary events and university talks. “Before this tour I’d never told my story” says Beyonce, “I feel empowered, the more you tell it, the more the badness goes away”.

You can read more about Beyonce’s experience of growing up transgender in Uganda here, and find out more about Transgender Equality Uganda

In 2013 a three-year Alliance project in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Tanzania will start to build capacity of our Linking Organisations and implementing partners to work on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

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Kikonyogo Kivumbi
Executive Director, Uhspa-Uganda

Web: www.uhspa.org
Blog: www.uhspauganda.blogspot.com

REFUSE TO BE MARGINALISED and denied access to Health simply because of who YOU ARE!! Tell your leader and legislator in the 9th PARLIAMENT

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Kikonyogo Kivumbi

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