May #112 : A Model Activist

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

Table of Contents

A Model Activist

Hep Cat

The Brave Lady of Haiti

Mighty Real

Big, Bad Media Bugout


PEP on the Down Low

Quick Studies

Legal Eye

On the March!

Notes on Camp

Kentucky Fried Bigots?

POZ Picks

Hollywood to HIVers: Drop Dead


Veggie Table

Don't Run

A Peek in the Pipeline

Ducking Resistance

Quick Study

Pharm Team



Editor's Letter


Teen Jeopardy

Heavy Lifting

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

May 2005

A Model Activist

Miss HIV Stigma Free's post-catwalk musings

Who: Cynthia Leshomo
Age: 32
Home: Gaborone, Botswana
Diagnosed: 2000

On February 26, all 12 of us positive women got onstage in front of 500 people and the international media to compete to become the third Miss HIV Stigma Free. Botswana has a long way to go in fighting stigma—some people still get fired because of their status. We were saying, “Look, we’re here, we’re beautiful and we’re normal.” I wasn’t too nervous because I had confidence I could win.

We came out in three outfits—casual, traditional Botswanan and evening attire. But we were judged on leadership, communication skills and HIV knowledge. The judges asked us questions about stigma and how we would use the crown. I said if I won I would educate children and work to get the government to train unemployed HIVers to bathe and take care of patients—to help with our nursing shortage. Currently, I work with an AIDS organization, speaking at schools, hospitals and companies to help people get tested, accept their status and live positively.

I decided to do the pageant because I used to stigmatize people with HIV as promiscuous. I thought as a beautiful, educated woman, I wasn’t the type to get infected. But I was. Then I went to parties, and people would point at me, saying I didn’t belong. Now I’m telling the nation that HIV isn’t a death sentence.

Winning didn’t sink in until the next day, when I realized now that I’m really on the HIV battlefield. But I was happy when I heard all the applause and they brought me flowers and I was taken out to dinner. I plan to use the scholarship of 2000 pula (U.S.$450) that I won to improve my speaking ability, so I can continue to advocate. Sometimes I feel like a celebrity, but not like Miss Universe, because our purpose is to break down stigma. Men, for instance, think HIV is a woman’s problem and won’t fight with us. We need a Mr. HIV Stigma Free. —As told to Lucile Scott

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.