“When one goes to fish, they go to the water body for fish. With the net one catches all sorts of fish and other debris. Sorting out the fish from debris is part of fishing. Same applies to HIV work. Talk about HIV, engage in activities around mobilising beneficiaries and challenge them to participate fully- make it enjoyable. Show the whole list of HIV fuels. Show how stigma, discrimination and abuse fuel HIV in communities.”
Thomas Muyunga is an IRMA Advocate from Kampala, Uganda. There he is CEO of MARPS (Most At Risk Populations’ Society) In Uganda, an umbrella organization committed to “lasting, enduring, and durable solutions against poverty.” Their work focuses on “PLEASE” – Protection, Lasting sexual-reproductive health practices, Empowerment, Attitude change, Social integration and Education. Thomas loves to mobilize communities and prepare and empower them to fight poverty, discrimination, and HIV.

Thomas has worked in HIV Services Provision since 1993 when he was a student volunteer at Rotary International. He first became aware of microbicides at an STD/STI Clinic at the National Referral Hospital in Uganda. He has since dedicated much time and effort to learning about and advocating for the development of successful microbicides. He will join IRMA as a Project ARM (Africa for Rectal Microbicides) scholarship grantee in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia prior to ICASA 2011 to be part of a working meeting to develop an African rectal microbicide agenda!

He believes rectal microbicides are very important because they bring more attention to anal intercourse and help to create conversation about it. He hopes this will also stimulate talk about the power dynamics of anal intercourse.

His advice for others wanting to become IRMA advocates is to first focus on learning as much as possible about HIV prevention, care and treatment so that you can teach others about these issues. Education will also prepare you to inform planning, programming and policy. We can only move forward if we are educated.

Read more Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate bios.

[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article’s content, whether in support or in opposition.]