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Old 02-27-2005, 12:00 PM   #1
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The Miss HIV Stigma Free pageant

Miss HIV Beauty Contest - For Concern of AIDS infected
Publish Date : 2/27/2005 10:48:00 PM Source : WhyInsure.com Staff


The Miss HIV Stigma Free pageant, that was organized last weekend in the Botswanan capital, Gaborone, was a unique beauty show. The Junoesque beauties that danced, smiled and posed on the catwalk were infected with HIV. It teaches us a great lesson to face the troubles boldly and bravely. These ‘Hellens’ of modern age have proved true the Shakespearean dictum that, “The cowards die many times before their death.” All 12 competitors were infected and determined to prove that living with HIV doesn't slow them down or make them any different. "We are all human beings," says show founder and organizer Kesego Basha-Mupeli, herself HIV positive. "What we want to prove is that we are exactly the same as everyone else. We can live productive, positive and happy lives. Here we are. Accept us."

. Brad Ryder, communications manager at the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership, a drug therapy program funded by U.S. drugs titan Merck and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, elucidated that this combination of sequins and unadorned honesty, startling anywhere in the world, is especially unusual in Africa. While many African countries are in denial over spiraling rates of HIV, Botswana is trailblazing a progressive approach that points to possible solutions, not just for its citizens but also for the continent. The government admits its problem and is making inroads against the disease with help from outside. Although more than one in three Botswanan adults has the aids virus, more than 35,000 (including nine of the 12 contestants) now take antiretroviral drugs (ARVS), meaning they should live relatively normal — and long — lives. "For many people it has become a manageable chronic condition.



Kgalalelo Ntsepe, the outgoing Miss HIV Stigma Free, knows all about fear. Four years ago, tired and thinning, with recurring skin rashes and sweaty spells at night, Ntsepe decided to go for an HIV test. "I went two times, and only made it on the third attempt," she says. "I wasn't sure what I had but I was scared." Within weeks of being diagnosed, she started taking antiretroviral drugs and began to get better. In her role as Miss HIV Stigma Free, Ntsepe has lectured in schools and companies around Botswana and visited Kenya, Uganda and Thailand to talk about aids. "Now people are starting to see that there is life once you start taking arvs," says Ntsepe, a few hours before she hands over her crown.



The feisty Chitombo, sporting a sharply cut and crimped hairdo, wows the audience, but in the end the lithe and vibrant Cynthia Leshomo, 32, takes the crown. Chitombo, who fell short in 2003 as well boldly put across, “Not to worry. "I'd rather not win, As long as I don't win I can enter again and I get a week of having my hair done and trying on new dresses. It's a lot of fun." What does it feel like to be a beauty queen for a day? I feel like a beauty queen every day of my life."

The contestants in the pageant all work with welfare groups: helping those who have contracted HIV; educating those who have not. Says contestant Malebogo Mongwaketse, 26: "People still have that fear. We're trying to show that knowing your status is a good thing."


But there's still a long way to go. The stigma of aids remains almost as prevalent as the disease, hampering efforts to contain its spread and adding to the burden of those infected.
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Old 02-27-2005, 12:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
“The cowards die many times before their death.”


Says contestant Malebogo Mongwaketse, 26: "People still have that fear. We're trying to show that knowing your status is a good thing."


But there's still a long way to go. The stigma of aids remains almost as prevalent as the disease, hampering efforts to contain its spread and adding to the burden of those infected.




I believe if everyone knew their status most would take precautions and this disease could be slowed down a lot.

This should happen from the top down and bottom up.

Unfortunately we have elected officials that tend to demonize people for being who they are instead of using their influence to encourage inclusiveness.
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Old 02-27-2005, 03:55 PM   #3
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I think this competition is pretty cool.
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Old 02-27-2005, 07:02 PM   #4
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yes, verte, the pageant is very cool and very necessary to generate the kind of discussions throughout countries with tremendous HIV infection rates to begin to "demystify" the HIV virus and begin the serious discussions of prevention methods necessary to save the futures of these nations, especially in Africa.
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