Over the weekend, there was dancing and rejoicing at hotel Africana when excited youth congregated in full support of their elders and children to celebrate living positively with HIV AIDS while fighting stigmatisation. The event that brought all this together as the Mr and Miss Y+ Beauty Pageant where the contestants exhibited lots of maturity and creativity on stage.
After a rigorous process which included the beautiful, handsome and energetic contestants being taken to boot camp for thorough grooming before the main pageant on Saturday and different levels of talent and fashion display, Nyanzi Huzairu from Jinja emerged Mr Y+ while Nawanyanga Gloria from Kampala was Miss Y+ as the overall ultimate winners each walking away with a full year scholarship by Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV & AIDS (UNYPA)..
Their colourful crowning was just an icing on the cake for an event that had many emotion-educing moments with baskets of inspirational messages to take home even for those HIV negative. So many in the crowd could be seen holding back tears as some let it flow freely as the contestants shared their touching life stories and how they overcame the fear of stigma to speak freely about the scourge.
Just like the judges, many guests were impressed with what they saw being displayed on stage as the contestants eloquently passed on the message of ‘living healthy and staying positive without discrimination and stigma’ in strict adherence to this year’s theme “Hands Up for HIV Prevention”.
Among those impressed, was the chief guest Major Rubaramira Ruranga the retired soldier who has lived with the virus for over 39 years and is still counting. He also shared his story and left a clear message to the youth living positively with HIV/AIDS
“Please do not intentionally infect other people with HIV. Live a healthy and happy life by living appositively and staying away from a reckless life. Always abstain or use condoms. It is possible because I have done this for long and I tell you, you too can do it” He said amidst a thunderous applause.
His sentiments were also echoed by musician and Pastor Wilson Bugembe who shared the painful story of how many people in his family got HIV/AIDS and died due to ignorance and poverty because they shared syringes and other sharp objects while trying to get treatment locally. After his musical performance and preaching, he prayed for the youth asking for God’s protection and guidance.
The judges admitted it was a tough call in some instances but settled for Lubangakene Godfrey from Kampala as First runner-up and Katuma Kizito from Luweero as Second runner-up for Mr Y+. While Osoru Samantha from Arua and Kyobutungi Bonitah from Kampala were first and Second runners-up respectively for Miss Y+ Kamyuka Osama was Mr Rising Man.
In her closing remarks Ms. Evelyn Chemti, a representative from the Ministry of Health commended UNYPA for the initiative that encourages young people to meaningfully participate in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and also reaffirmed government’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Adding that, government is heavily committed in ensuring that, it implements interventions, in partnership with different stakeholders, to make sure that young people who are HIV negative remain negative while those who are HIV positive are provided with the care and support they need to be able to live a healthy life and reach their full potential.