On Tuesday night the Speaker Tour visited the Houses of Parliament where the speakers shared their incredible stories to over 50 civil society members. Chaired by Pauline Latham OBE MP, Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS, the speakers encouraged the inspired audience to ask interesting questions and discuss the Patent Pool campaign as well as the replenishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Support for both these campaigns was clearly shown by Pauline Latham, who even encouraged the audience to write to their MPs and pharmaceutical companies to take action and support the campaigns! Hearing directly from the speakers how the stigma caused by a HIV positive diagnosis impacts daily life clearly brings these issues sharply into focus not only for young people, but also civil society and Members of Parliament all who have the power to take action and push for change to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Tonight the tour will reach UCL, the speakers include:
Bonani Madina, 27, Zimbabwe
Like many young people growing up in sub-Saharan Africa, Bonani has lost childhood friends and family members to HIV and AIDS. Bonani and his family have been acutely affected by the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV and AIDS when his brother and brother’s wife died, leaving behind 3 young children. Bonani currently cares for 3 orphans, the youngest of whom is HIV positive herself and is reliant on ART, something which his brother did not have access too, highlighting the importance of HIV medication. Bonani has been involved with Restless Development for 8 years, starting as a volunteer and now as an Assistant Programme Coordinator.
Esnart Mwila, 30, Zambia
Since finding out her HIV positive status, Esnart has been motivated to become an advocate and peer educator, sharing her life story as a young lady living with HIV on ART with a wide range of audiences, schools, churches, clinics and market places. Like the majority of people living with HIV in the world, Esnart found it difficult to disclose her status to her family and friends, and experienced the discrimination that the majority of people face every day when her sister stopped talking to her and refused to eat with her. She has since rebuilt the relationship with her family and has encouraged her entire family to have VCT. Esnart now works as a facilitator for TALC (Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign) and a trainer for the Peace Corps.
George Montgomery, 23, Maryland, USA
George found out he was HIV positive whilst on active duty in the US Marines where he felt first hand the stigma and discrimination surrounding it. Becoming aware of the stigmatisation surrounding HIV and the disparities in treatment and care, he was motivated to become an AIDS activist and peer educator, travelling across the US telling his story to the youth population and becoming active in organising protests and conferences. George is currently actively involved in the Campaign to End AIDS as the National Youth Co-Chair.