Deloune Comfort Matongo
Country of work: Zimbabwe
What is your motivation for becoming an HIV cure advocate?
Coming from a third world country with high HIV burden has exposed me to live through harsh extremities of HIV and AIDS. I have friends born HIV positive who still endure the stigma, who struggle to be in an intimate relationship and worry everyday about what tomorrow holds. I have seen family members become infected, struggle to get treatment, suffer from opportunistic infections, and die from AIDS related conditions. HIV has led to massive loss of life, made governments change developmental priorities and exacerbated poverty. A cure is the most efficient and effective way to halt devastation brought by HIV.
What advocacy work are you currently engaged in?
I am a 2018 AVAC Advocacy Fellow whose project aims at increasing PrEP uptake among MSM and Transwomen in Zimbabwe. The project further creates advocacy for key policy and strategic documents that facilitate comprehensive SRH and HIV programming for LGBTIQ and other Key populations. As an advocacy officer under GALZ, I also identify emerging SRHR issues from the LGBTIQ community and develop key service and policy advocacy agendas as well as advise MOH on LGBTIQ priorities in the national response to HIV. Because homosexuality is not recognized by law, my work further extends to human rights activism and advocacy, where I mobilize and amplify a coordinated advocacy voice of LGBTIQ people for recognition as equal beings, with equal need of service and protection by law.
How do you think knowledge learned from the Advocacy-for-Cure Academy will influence your current work?
Being an HIV prevention advocate, the knowledge I will learn from the academy will broaden my understanding of HIV cure research, thereby facilitating the broadening of my advocacy work to HIV cure advocacy. I will strengthen advocacy for increased investments in HIV cure research, especially by African governments and institutions. I believe the knowledge and skills I will learn will empower me to develop a strong advocacy case, to require development partners, research institutions and our government to increase efforts and resources towards an HIV cure as well as to mobilize community advocates in strengthening advocacy for HIV cure.