By Prossy Namiiro
City pastor Martin Ssempa was last month dragged to court by Champions of Social Justice in Health, Human Rights and SRHR in Uganda over bitter comments towards the idea of beauty contests as a means of stopping HIV/AIDS.
“We have never had beauty contests for similar Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, It is sending a wrong message. Every disease must have a stigma to make it undesirable for the uninfected. The pageants are trying to make it a desirable disease,”
He believes that holding beauty contests for people living with HIV defeats efforts already achieved in the fight against the spread of HIV.
During the court session that resumed yesterday, Pastor Ssempa appearing before the EOC Tribunal explained that the rewards that come with the pageant titles can lure people into acts of contracting the disease.
“My problem is you are giving awards for having HIV. In a country where people are poor, and you tell them you can win money and trips for having HIV, people will get tempted,” Pastor Ssempa says.
Adding, “Risk perception is how scared people are of a disease. Stigma is necessary to discourage the non infected from getting it. If people see AIDS as a casual allergy, then they won’t make the necessary sacrifices to avoid it,”
He further advised that efforts be made to embrace people with AIDS, but these efforts should not be used to reduce the fear of the disease.”
The court hearing will resume on the December 19.