What issue are you trying to solve?
A survey by Crane survey shows that the HIV rate has increased to at least 13 % among the LGBTIQ population. This represents an alarming rate, especially when compared to other at-risk populations. The social and legislative environments have been unfriendly to LGBTIQ persons as widespread homophobia is supported by laws that criminalize same sex relationships. Adolescents and young people who are part of this group face high levels of stigmatization and discrimination on several levels when seeking services. As young people, there are challenges with accessing certain preventative services and commodities including information and life skills for HIV prevention, condoms, voluntary confidential counselling and testing (VCCT) and access to mental Health healing services. This can be further compounded if young people reveal their gender as negative attitudes by service providers can prove both intimidating and inhibiting.
In the context of these challenges, several areas have been identified to strengthen, improved and or enhance HIV/AIDS prevention directives and reduction of mental Health issues among LGBTIQ youth. By extension through the human rights-based approach a more supportive and enabling environment to reduce stigma and discrimination against LGBTIQ youth through sensitization sessions and innovative behaviour change communication strategy (storytelling sessions and poems) with civil society groups as well as to improve access to social protective services.
What is your approach to change this undesired situation?
Our initiative is using the human rights-based approach as it relates to the high levels of stigma and discrimination that have infringed upon the right for equal access and high-quality healthcare and treatment. The link between homophobia, stigma, and HIV/AIDS is inextricable; increased stigma and discrimination from the general population have forced LGBTIQ into risky sexual resources as they do not readily obtain preventative resources. They by extension continue to infect others and re-infect themselves as they are not aware of their HIV status.
We are taking a human rights-based approach in executing our project, this approach focuses on advocacy through storytelling sessions and short stories filming to share and show the negative impact Stigma and discrimination brings during interactions with stakeholders, as well as training peer Health Ambassadors in risk reduction, human rights and responsibilities therefore improving their life chances.
This approach is innovative because its interactive, reliable for through stories shared and through short films these can help other LGBTIQ youth out there to have self-belief, build their confidence and be able to overcome emotional torture hence stable mental minds, this approach is a great one to fighting stigma as stories are shared with the perpetrators, we believe stories enable people to change for the better.
What is the potential impact of your initiative?
In the context of these challenges, we will have strengthened, improved and or enhance HIV/AIDS prevention directives and reduction of mental Health issues among LGBTIQ youth. By extension through the human rights-based approach a more supportive and enabling environment to reduce stigma and discrimination against LGBTIQ youth through sensitization sessions and innovative behaviour change communication strategy (storytelling sessions and poems) with civil society groups as well as improved access to social protective services. All of these to raise create awareness (empowerment sessions) for LGBTIQ youth on mental Health, HIV/AIDS and other STIs and we will have created space for open dialogue amongst LGBTIQ youth, health service providers and other key stakeholders to discuss public education, peer education importance of advocacy, care and support to curb stigma, discrimination which is the major cause of mental Health problems among LGBTIQ youth in Uganda.