In 2016, Avert reported that 1.4 million people in Uganda were living with HIV, and that the country experienced 28,000 cases of AIDS-related death. In the last decade, the country has seen a 21 per cent spike in new infections, and these statistics are set to grow without affirmative action. A serious lack of government funding has had a detrimental effect on the nation's ability to improve the situation. This has meant increased pressure on NGOs working the front lines.

 PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

Youth Alive Uganda is a community based organization that delivers educational programs to empower the youth of Kampala, the country's capital city. Their work includes promoting HIV awareness and prevention, conflict resolution and peace keeping strategies, and fighting violence against women and girls. They believe that the best way to help the community is by providing the tools needed so that they may help themselves. And this begins with youth.

 PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

Youth Alive’s programs offer life skills and basic education that aim to inspire youth to break these cycles. In some cases, poverty and lack of educational and employment opportunities within the community have forced children and young adults into prostitution. News Vision estimates that there are about 12,000 child sex workers in Uganda.

As well, Avert reported that HIV was prevalent among more than 35 per cent of sex workers in 2014. It is estimated that sex workers and their clients accounted for 16 per cent of new HIV infections in Uganda in the same year. The partners of clients accounted for an additional 3 per cent.  Punitive laws and stigmatizing attitudes towards sex workers has meant that these groups most vulnerable to infection are far less likely to engage with HIV services.

 PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

Another tool employed by Youth Alive is a workshop series in which participants enact situations involving threatening scenarios and conflict. They teach participants peaceful resolutions and strategies to turn a potential threatening situation, into an amicable one.

 PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

These workshops are critical, and their purposes are multifaceted. Youth Alive Uganda also focuses on violence prevention for women and girls in particular. Their wish is that the workshops will become a double-edged sword in the fight against HIV and violence.  

 PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

PHOTO: Rachel Kulchin

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