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Hannington Muyenje lives in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda in sub-Saharan Africa. Trained as an engineer, he became an expert in setting up the electronic equipment needed to run radio stations. He was asked to run a Christian radio station in Kampala, and he used this medium to help change the behaviour of youthful listeners to reduce their risk of HIV infection. This is the story of unplanned public health leadership and taking advantage of the opportunity to improve health. The best way to understand his impact at the individual and human level is to hear the story of Stella, one of his young listener volunteers.
Asked what drives her passion for behaviour change campaigns directed at Ugandan youths, Stella, a 24-year-old mother and university student who volunteers with “Power FM” radio station’s campus programmes responded: “I am the only hope left for the future of my family. I have lost four elder sisters to HIV and I have two HIV-positive siblings. I could have been dead if I had not changed my behaviour when Power FM came to our school. My peasant single mother will not be able to raise my three siblings to adulthood if I give in to pressure to get a sugar daddy [an older partner to meet her financial needs in exchange for sexual favors] and ultimately risk catching HIV.” Stella would say that she is one among many young people whose lives have been transformed by Power FM’s innovative youth-driven approaches to inhibit HIV in Uganda. Stella almost lost her shot at a good future when she got impregnated by a man who her friends persuaded her to sleep with because he provided them with luxuries. Although she did not contract HIV during that one-night stand in her final year of high school, …
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