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Meet the 2019 AVAC Advocacy Fellows

AVAC is delighted to announce the 2019 AVAC Advocacy Fellows—the tenth class of Fellows! Please join us in congratulating these seven talented advocates. With this incoming class, the AVAC Fellows program has grown to seventy. We hope you'll find ways to collaborate with the new Fellows in 2019 and beyond.

The 2019 Advocacy Fellows are:

Josephine Chinele photo

Josephine Chinele

Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication (IHDC)

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
My advocacy started from my investigative reporting and advocacy feature article writing. These often exposed key policy issues like the need for young women to access PrEP. In 2019, my goal is to influence the Malawi government to consider adolescent girls and young women as a priority population for PrEP rollout. PrEP as an HIV prevention tool offers an option that would put the power in the hands of women to reduce their risk of HIV. In Malawi, gender-based violence and intimate partner violence also affects decision making around sex, therefore PrEP could be a great option to empower young women. Learn more about Josephine.

photo of David Ita

David Ita

New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS)

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
Due to the prevalence of HIV among adolescents in Nigeria, it is imperative for them to be adequately informed about comprehensive sexual education and have access to HIV and sexual reproductive health services. Currently, there isn’t enough focus on HIV prevention in Nigeria. I believe that my ability to facilitate discussions around improving SRH services and improved access to HIV prevention for young people will set the ball rolling to change this narrative within my community. Learn more about David.

photo of Cleopatra Makura

Cleopatra Sheilla Makura

Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT)

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
There are tools to prevent HIV such as PrEP and more are potentially on the horizon, like the ring. This gives me more power to advocate for HIV prevention. I want to influence my government to strengthen health service provision for HIV prevention, especially among young people. Together we can have an HIV-free generation. It is about empowering individuals and communities to ensure inclusive policies are put in place to end the pandemic. It all begins with raising awareness of the available options, adequate knowledge on how they work and the flexibility to adopt them without leaving behind those at highest risk. Learn more about Cleopatra.

photo of Mercy Muntonyi

Mercy Mutonyi

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP)

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
Kenya has made progressive efforts towards ending its HIV pandemic with the provision of behavioural, structural and biomedical interventions. However, this mix is not accessible to many of the vulnerable and key populations who are the most burdened by HIV in Kenya. I would like to see the promotion of acceptable interventions that promote uptake of HIV testing, linkage to care and treatment and PrEP services. Specifically, I would like to undertake an advocacy project for a rights-based approach to partner notification among female sex workers. Learn more about Mercy.

photo of Sarah Nabia

Sarah Nabia

Ashodaya Samithi

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
The successful completion of the PrEP demonstration project among FSWs in Mysore and Calcutta gave rise to some convincing results indicating the community’s acceptance of a biomedical prevention tool as part of combination prevention of HIV. While PrEP has been well received by the project’s participants, it has also cultivated interest and a groundswell of demand among the sex-worker community at large. My project will focus on time-bound PrEP advocacy to mitigate the impact of HIV among the sex worker population, which has recorded significant new infections during the recently published 2017 surveillance report. Learn more about Sarah.

photo of Shakirah Namwanje

Shakirah Namwanje

Peer to Peer Uganda

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
Even with tremendous work that researchers and scientists are doing and how far we have come in regards to the epidemic, many young people continue to get HIV every day. This shows that we have to go back to the drawing board and come up with better products and plans to deliver all prevention options. Even as a young HIV-positive advocate, I can tell you that it never gets easier—so for me to give a young person out there any chance to a better life is important and is the source of my strength to advocate for HIV prevention. Learn more about Shakirah.

photo of Ntokozo Zakwe

Ntokozo Zakwe

Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
South Africa

Why I Want to Advocate for HIV Prevention in 2019:
South Africa is one of the countries leading in new HIV infections and that calls for more innovative focus on HIV prevention. We are losing the fight against HIV and will not be able to end AIDS by 2030 if we fail to disrupt the cycle of transmission. I have always believed in advocating and fighting for the vulnerable populations and this fellowship will help me ensure that the next generation does not go through half of the things we went through and that they won’t have to fight the same battles that we had to fight. Learn more about Ntokozo.