Art and Creativity in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Empowerment Among Young People in Uganda

The dramatic reduction of HIV/AIDS infections in the 1990s placed Uganda at the global helm of fighting the dread epidemic by far. Today, however, the epidemic landscape has greatly changed, and HIV infections are on the rise again especially among young people. This worrying increase, the general lack of research into levels of awareness and the inadequate efforts on how to tackle the epidemic and its related social problems- poverty, social stigma and discrimination etc., makes it a matter of urgency to address perhaps through strategic local context-specific creative interventions, particularly in marginalized settings of the informal sector- industrial areas occupied by artisans. I argue here that public health response alone is insufficient to address this devastating epidemic. Considering the level of its complexity, I seek to explore possibilities of utilizing art and creativity through applied sculpture to address HIV/AIDS and its related problems by placing greater emphasis on the creative process through collectively engaging and collaborating with young artisans (affected and infected) and focusing on the barriers to prevention, awareness and livelihoods. This research will be done mainly in collaboration with a local selected artisan community (engaged in wood and metal fabrication- carpentry, welding. Forging and so on) in the informal settings of Kampala - Bwaise, Katwe and Ndeeba. Specifically, I seek to explore possibilities of using applied sculpture through interactive participation with young artisans to generate and co-produce new knowledge and art forms that might help tackle HIV/AIDS and economically empower them. It is set to focus on:

(1) Stimulating conversation and dialogue that can inspire and inform applied sculptural theory and practice to facilitate social change by drawing from stories and narratives emanating from everyday experiences of young artisans engulfed by tough economic precarity and HIV/AIDS.

(2) Exploring social engagement and co-production through interaction and participant observation with young artisans in Kampala forefronting local conditions, local skills and knowledge, harnessing talents for the empowerment of marginalized artisan communities in the context of HIV/AIDS.

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