In this interview, Gloria Nawanyaga, a Ugandan HIV activist, discusses her experiences with menstrual products and living with HIV. She provided AFRIpads with great feedback on our reusable pads and how we can best serve the community. Interviewed by Patricia Humura from the Partnerships and Communications team online on February 5th, 2024.
Patricia (AFRIpads): It is a sunny Monday morning full of energy. And yes, I know where it comes from. It is because I have an interview with Gloria Nawanyaga, a remarkable HIV activist. She is excited to share her experience using our products and learn more about her. And yes, the virtual meeting had glitches initially, but we finally made it. Wait, she is talking now, Gloria! I project my voice eagerly.
Gloria Nawanyaga: Hey Patricia, I am so happy to speak to you. Her warmth shines through the screen.
Patricia: I am happy to have you. Gloria, could you introduce yourself?
Gloria Nawanyaga: Sure! I was born in Kampala, although my ancestral home is in the Masaka district. I am living with HIV and pursuing a career in Human Rights law. I am also the Founder and Executive Director of GILO Young Positives Foundation, a youth-led organization aimed at empowering, educating, and equipping young people living and affected by HIV and AIDS to improve their livelihoods and well-being. We have been operating for about a year now. We are focusing our efforts on Kassanda district because it is a central district yet remote with challenges like poverty, stigma, discrimination, and high teenage pregnancies.
Patricia: What inspired you to become an HIV Activist?
Gloria Nawanyaga: During my childhood, I faced stigma and discrimination as a result of my HIV status. The journey to self-acceptance was challenging, but it gave me the motivation to advocate for the rights of people living and affected by HIV. I believe that no one should experience what I did, and I am committed to ensuring everyone has access to their health rights
Patricia: How did you first hear about AFRIpads?
Gloria Nawanyaga: I first learned about AFRIpads through organisations I saw receiving their products on X (Twitter). When I connected with Together Alive Health Initiative (TAHI), one of the organisations that received a donation, they offered 100 menstrual kits for children living with HIV in Kassanda district. Before distributing them, I tried them out on the pad myself. I was amazed by the comfort and quality, and I knew I had to share my feedback with AFRIpads.
Patricia: How can products like AFRIpads contribute to period hygiene and management among people living with HIV?
Gloria Nawanyaga: It is already evident that AFRIpads menstrual products make a difference. Honestly, these pads are perfect! However, perhaps you could collaborate with more organizations supporting people living with HIV to reach more people. It is very beneficial that the pads come with instructions on how to use and care for them, which promotes hygiene.
Patricia: What products were you using before you discovered AFRIpads?
Gloria Nawanyaga: Indeed, I had tried various disposable pads, however, they frequently caused irritation and discomfort. AFRIpads menstrual pads are gentle on the skin and provide long-lasting comfort. I continue to use them and would love to see more available for managing my menstruation.
Patricia: As an HIV activist, how do you raise awareness about menstrual health within the community, including people living with HIV?
Gloria Nawanyaga: Primarily, I use social media to raise awareness, particularly among females. I also engage males, as they contribute to reducing stigma. I have trained young men to understand menstrual cycles and support girls in need.
I had a conversation with my father before he passed away, during which I asked him for menstrual pads. He asked me about their price, and I lied to him, saying they cost 2,500 Ugandan shillings. In reality, I only needed 2,000 and wanted to keep the extra 500 for myself. However, he realized I needed them and informed me that the actual cost was 2,000 Ugandan shillings. I believe that fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and partners should know their loved ones’ menstrual needs. That is why I offer menstrual health packages, cycle management, and education on period disposal, menstrual hygiene, and disposal ethics. Additionally, I provide physical training and education for charity.
Patricia: How can people reach out to you to support your cause?
Gloria Nawanyaga: You can reach me at email@example.com. I am always eager to collaborate and appreciate any support offered.
Patricia: Thank you, Gloria, for sharing your time and experience with us. We appreciate your partnership and look forward to continuing our work together.