My lovely people, a lot of good things have happened these past days in Gihanga!

To celebrate World Aids Day 2022, Inyambo Stars together with RBP+ (an association of People living with HIV) organized the “Stop HIV stigma show” in the commune of Gihanga on the 3rd of December. I was very privileged to support them to organise this show for the third time.

During the opening speech I pointed out that it is very sad to see people still dying because of AIDS in 2022. And how shocking it is to hear children are still born with HIV, or of people who stop their medication because they heard they are Undetectable. This shows the need for all these talents to keep up their support to empower communities in Gihanga, Bubanza and all of Burundi on key health messages around HIV and AIDS. 

The show was all about using our community’s talents to empower people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS to learn about and build their capacity to fight HIV & AIDS and address HIV stigma. Combining various talents and arts forms is a great way to bring HIV education, and I am glad the Inyambo Stars share this passion with me. Share our talent and break HIV stigma! 

So, we brought together different talents: The fashionistas of Inyambo stars, the Indigenous Batwa Cultural group Ubumwe from Gahwazi, musical youth of Inyambo Voices, the supertalented artist Didy Love, and many more. Together we created a fantastic day for the community of Gihanga to remember. In all the performances key messages around HIV/AIDS came back like “fight HIV and AIDS but don’t stigmatize people living with HIV”, “Do HIV testing” and “Take medication every day”. 

Here is an impression of the day:

Getting ready for the show!
Opening the “Stop HIV stigma show”
Opening the show through traditional Burundian dance by the Batwa Cultural group Ubumwe
The fashionistas from club Inyambo Stars want to contribute to empowering young people to change the narrative on HIV and AIDS by normalizing the disease. Their wish is to organise more campaigns using fashion as an arts form to bring health messages beyond Gihanga, across Burundi. 
Gihanga music artist Didy Love, proud member of Inyambo stars, did an energetic performance while also sharing key HIV messages
Inyambo voices shared their recently released song on fighting HIV stigma

Our common goal as artists was to make sure that as many as possible young people would be able to engage with us on this day. I believe that can one day they can become our hivstigmafighters, that they will be listened to by other youth and will help to build a new generation that is open minded and better informed about HIV and AIDS. This is a how we equalize the system. 

I would like to thank the Administrator of Gihanga commune who gave us the permission for this great day and sent his first adviser to join us on. It is great to see them engage in our community and see what Inyambo Stars and other talents are able to show and give back to their community. I was also pleased by the presence of RBP+ and how they appreciated the support given by the Youth in Gihanga. Finally thanks to the DJs MC Chadou and MC Jerome, and Zoe Brand designers. Together we showed that one day we will win this battle! 

Partners of the “Stop HIV stigma show”

So this was the third “Stop HIV stigma show” in Gihanga community and I hope there are more to come. I am really excited to continue my support to Inyambo Stars and others to organise their next event. If you want to support them please do, they will be very grateful to continue developing and sharing their talents to break HIV stigma! 

Together we can! 



U=U life coach

My dear lovely people living with HIV, I am not sure if we all know what U=U means. If not, I am always glad to explain it once again as it is really important to know U=U and how it can help to break the HIV stigma.

If you have an undetectable viral load, it means that you cannot transmit HIV sexually. I believe this information should be known widely as I have come to realize that there are still people out there that lack this information. So, to highlight the impact of U=U I will share two stories of young couples where U=U saved their relationship.

My first story happened in October last year, when I got in touch with a HIV+ American woman with undetectable viral load who follows my HIV stigmafighter facebook page. She fell in love with an African migrant from Senegal and I just finished to share a post about the U=U campaign in French. Immediately she contacted me via messenger and asked me if I could talk to her boyfriend about U=U.

“I can give you truth, information and respect, but I cannot transmit HIV “

I explained U=U to him through this picture in French. He told me that they already had intercourse and that some time after that she told him about her HIV status. At the time he panicked, thinking it would be the end of the world, especially since he recently was tested HIV negative before donating blood. I was quick to comfort him and inform that she could not pass it on to him because she is Undetectable. I recommended him to go back for another test to discover the truth.

A few days later he got in touch with me again and he was very happy and thanked me for guiding him in the whole process. He send me a small message saying “Hello Madam , I want to thank you for your help. I did HIV test and I am negative. I believe now in U=U”. He confirmed that he will keep on loving her and is planning to start a family with her. I now heard from them and learned that soon they are going to get married! What a happy ending!

My second story is about a young African migrant woman living in the Netherlands. I used to be her HIV peer counsellor and during one of our sessions she explained her worries about having children. She was madly in love but she did not want to disclose her status. First of all, I checked if she already knew something about U=U and she told me that she heard about it but did not understand it since she always communicated with health professionals through an interpreter who does not have knowledge on HIV terminologies. So, I explained clearly to her in French what U=U means since this is her preferred language to communicate. I told her that if she really wants to have a baby with her boyfriend, she will have to tell him to make him understand what it means to be undetectable. 

I also stressed to her to use the fact of being undetectable for her own benefit, and that she should ask him to find out about his status as well before sexual intercourse. The reason for this is because if it then so happens that he is HIV+, they will not later on argue about his status. Being open about status and being undetectable will really help him understand that there will not be any danger for him.

After our chat, she went home convinced to be open about it. On the same evening when he approached her romantically she decided to tell him. He accepted her advice and they went to see a doctor together where he also learned more about how he can support her. He also got in touch with me to hear more  about my and other experiences, which made him really excited to start a family with his girlfriend. Two months later she became pregnant and now they have a son that was born HIV negative.

Long live U=U, it saves relationship and helps to break the stigma!

Peace, Eliane

Photo impression – Stop HIV stigma Show

Last Saturday 5 December I organised the “Stop HIV stigma Show” in my hometown, Gihanga, Burundi. I believe that by organising these type of events that one day my dream will come true: To defeat HIV stigma in our community! Here you find an impression of this beautiful day.

Pictures of this day are made courtesy of Ingabire Media and Chouman. Enjoy! Peace, Eliane

Here are a few pictures of the fashion show organised by the lovely people of the Fit Fashion Fire Team:

There was a lot of entertainment as well. Multi-talent Bryere in a traditional outfit playing the igondera, gifted Devie with a beautiful HIV stigmafighter button, the brilliant girls of Amazing Team, a group of awesome visuallly impaired singers from Lycee Kanura Band, a young performer from Fit Fashion Fire Team, and our two enthousiastic MCs Emi-Bravo and Chadou:


Then there was lots of important speakers during the event. The co-organiser Irene Kundubumwe, the representative of the network for people living with HIV in Bubanza Province Madame Kanyana Daphrose, national association of young people living with HIV Nshimirimana Salvator and Chantal Mbonankira

And to finish this beautiful photo impression, here you see my Batwa friends posing in front of the banner for the show. These were my real guests of honour and had a well deserved frontrow seat during this amazing day in Gihanga. Mwarakoze!

De volgende generatie

Ik blijf me steeds beter voelen sinds ik open sta over mijn hiv voor mijn kinderen. Zaterdag was ik uitgenodigd voor HIV-positieve vrouwenactiviteiten in Sittard. Moeders mochten hun kinderen meenemen. Ik dacht dat het iets zou zijn voor heel jonge kinderen van 0 tot 8. Ik vroeg of het oke was om mijn jongste zoon van 10 te brengen. Natuurlijk is hij welkom, was het het antwoord. Dus was het mijn beurt om met mijn zoon Akira te overleggen of hij geïnteresseerd was om met mij mee te doen.

Hij had 3 keuzes:

  • De eerst was om met zijn grote broer Rio en zijn vader om te gaan trainen in de Lage Zwaluwe
  • De tweede keuze was om te gaan spelen met zijn vriend
  • En de derde was om zich bij mama aan te sluiten bij de hiv-activiteiten voor vrouwen.

Raad eens wat hij koos? Hij wilde met mij meegaan. Ik vroeg hem of hij zeker is om naar Sittard te gaan, 2 uur in een trein te zitten en deel te nemen aan de buikdans. Zijn antwoord was: “Mama, ik wil je ondersteunen bij veel dingen die je doet met het bestrijden van stigma. Ik schaam me niet dat ik in het openbaar om je heen ben, jij bent mijn moeder en mijn mooiste en moedigste moeder die ik ooit heb gezien in mijn hele leven “.

Nou niet dat hij heel oud is … slechts 10 jaar. Maar dit bracht tranen op mijn wangen. Toen vroeg hij: “Mam, ben je aan het huilen? Heb ik iets verdrietigs gezegd of heb ik je beledigd? “Ik zei:” nee mijn liefste, dit zijn tranen van vreugde “. Ik weet dat alle energie die ik in dit gevecht stop niet voor niets zal zijn, want zelfs als ik niet in staat zal zijn om verder te gaan, zal je oppakken wat er nog over was.

Dus gingen we met onze trein naar Sittard. We hebben geweldige mensen ontmoet, ik had een leuk gesprek.  Sommige vrouwen kenden me alleen via mijn Facebook-positieve berichten. Sommigen hadden mijn verhalen gelezen op Hello gorgeous en waren zo blij om elkaar persoonlijk te ontmoeten. Dus omhelsden we elkaar en lachten we samen. Wat gebeurde er met mijn zoon Akira?

Wel, hij heeft al 3 kinderen ontmoet die hij kende tijdens het Positive Kids Family weekend. Dus ze waren samen aan het spelen, en soms kwam hij langs en gaf me dat ‘ik hou van je moeder kus’ en ik zou hem en andere kinderen horen piano spelen.

Ik was opgewonden om de buikdans te doen. Het is iets heel anders dan de Afrikaanse dans die ik als een professionele danser gewend ben te doen. Ik keek ernaar uit om het samen met positieve vrouwen te leren en contact te maken zoals ik altijd doe wanneer ik dans.

Wat een geweldige dag, ik heb genoten van elke minuut. De kinderen waren net als hun moeders gekleed in een buikdansuitrusting. Ik dacht dat Akira misschien niet mee zou doen of de outfit zou aantrekken. Het bleek dat hij er veel plezier mee had. Hij vindt het leuk om te dansen, denk ik, iets dat hij van mij heeft geërft. Hahahaha.

We hebben een leuke tijd samen gehad. Na de dans aten lekkere oosterse hapjes en toen gingen we naar huis.

Tot nu toe heb ik er geen spijt van mijn kinderen over mijn hiv-status te hebben verteld of Akira met mij in de vrouwengroep te laten doen, omdat ik geloof dat wanneer we de jonge generatie sterker maken we een kans hebben om het hiv-stigma te bestrijden en infecties te verminderen.