THE Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS has launched a pageant for women living with HIV/AIDS in Matabeleland South Province.
In an interview after the crowning of Miss HIV Positive Bulilima and Mangwe in Plumtree recently, Matabeleland South youth provincial chairperson for the organisation Lillian Ndiweni said the pageant was aimed at instilling confidence among people living with HIV/AIDS.
“We have realised that stigma starts with the people living with HIV/AIDS, because they view themselves as inferior. That is why we have launched this pageant in order to boost their self-esteem.
“We wish that people living with HIV would stop focusing on their shortcomings and concentrate more on their strengths,” she said.
Ndiweni said the pageant was being held in various districts of the province, culminating in the provincial finals next month.
“The pageant was recently held in Bulilima and Mangwe districts, where six ladies were crowned.
“These ladies will be representing the two districts at provincial level where we will be having representatives from all other districts. The pageant will be later conducted at national level as well,” she said.
Mpilo Ndlovu from Mangwe District was crowned Miss HIV Positive Bulilima Mangwe Youth, while Thokozani Mkhwebu was crowned Miss HIV Positive Bulilima Mangwe Senior.
Ndiweni said the pageant had 10 adult participants and nine youths.
“The competition only had female contestants as men are not forthcoming when it comes to participating in HIV-related programmes.
“The pageant saw nine youths and 10 adults battling it out for the two crowns. The response from contestants was really good,” she said.
She said ZNNP+ had organised the pageant with the assistance of Restless Development, a non-governmental organisation focusing on improving the livelihoods of people living with HIV through initiating various self-help projects.
Silibaziso Msipa from Mangwe was crowned first princess, while Ivani Ncube emerged the second princess in the seniors category.
Iphithule Ndlovu and Mavis Moyo were crowned first and second princess respectively under the youths category. The winners received vouchers. The pageant was held under the theme “Breaking new ground in order to bury stigma and discrimination”.