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International News

Botswana Holds Beauty Pageant for HIV-Positive Women to Combat Stigma Associated With Disease

September 8, 2003

Fourteen HIV-positive Botswanan women on Saturday competed in the country's second annual Miss HIV Stigma-Free pageant, which is aimed at reducing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Pageant organizer Kesego Basha, who is HIV-positive, said that her own experiences as an HIV-positive woman inspired her to start the pageant. Organizers of the pageant -- which had an audience of about 1,000 -- said they hoped the pageant would show that being HIV-positive does not necessarily prevent a woman from being "vibrant and beautiful," according to the AP/Newsday. In addition to competing in evening gown, traditional clothing and talent portions, the contestants also shared with the audience their own stories about being HIV-positive. One woman said that she contemplated suicide after testing positive. Kgalalelo Ntsepe, the 31-year-old winner of the pageant, urged other HIV-positive people to begin taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible and described how the drugs had transformed her "from bone-thin and sickly to robust and healthy," according to the AP/Newsday. Ntsepe, who is a counselor for HIV-positive youth, said she felt "honored" to win the contest, adding, "I'm going to go around the country to talk to people to say that (being) an HIV-positive person does not mean you have done something wrong. You are still who you are." Botswana has the highest HIV prevalence in the world; approximately 38% of people in the country are HIV-positive, according to the AP/Newsday (Motseta, AP/Long Island Newsday, 9/7). Botswana has received grants for its universal access antiretroviral drug program totaling more than $100 million over five years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and drug maker Merck. In addition, the Harvard AIDS Institute has built a $4.5 million AIDS research laboratory and is training health care workers to address the epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/18).

Additional information on AIDS in Botswana is available online through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on HIV/AIDS.

Back to other news for September 8, 2003


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



  
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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