Uganda: HIV-Positive Journalist Leads in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS (April 2007)


Elvis Basudde, one of the attendees of the "Editorial Leadership in HIV/AIDS Reporting: Changing Hearts, Minds and Behaviors" workshop, is a Ugandan journalist living with HIV/AIDS. He is one of a growing number of prominent Ugandans who are openly disclosing their HIV status and who are actively involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Basudde shares with others his experience as a person living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). "I have lived on because I refused to interpret my condition as terminal and learned to live positively. The first thing I did was to accept my status," Basudde said.

Initially very ill, Basudde sought treatment. He recalled his weight was only 80 pounds when he was admitted to a clinical research center. "My face was sunken. I had full-blown AIDS. My relatives and friends cried, knowing there was not much time left," he said. Thanks to antiretroviral treatment, his health was dramatically restored.

Today, Basudde is a leader in his country. "I have gone from the frightened 'victim' to a spokesman for new views about HIV and AIDS, and I hope I can celebrate more birthdays," he said.

He works to spread the message about HIV/AIDS. "I am sounding a serious warning, particularly to the young people, who are more vulnerable. They should avoid unsafe sex, by abstaining or using a condom. Never have a sexual relationship before testing for HIV. So many people look healthy, but may have the virus." He added: "Using my experience I am encouraging those living with HIV not to give up on life. Many are dying psychologically."

With support from PEPFAR for the journalist training workshop, Basudde's message will reach a growing number of people. The bold leadership of people like Basudde is helping to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS.


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