JIS News

A well-known African HIV/AIDS activist will be taking his message of hope to Jamaica, shortly.
Winstone Zulu, originally from Zambia and now a Visiting Fellow at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, has been living with HIV for the past 19 years and says his message of hope is that if you have the disease, it does not have to mean the end of your life.
“It’s possible to live with this without fear and without shame,” he said in an interview with JIS News. “I’m 45 years old and I’ve been living with this for 19 years. Next year I will celebrate two decades of living with this disease,” he adds.
The married father of three, who has advocated worldwide for victims of HIV/AIDS, will be in Jamaica from April 16 to 17, at the invitation of the University of the West Indies (UWI), where he will deliver a lecture and meet with officials who are involved in policy and research related to HIV/AIDS. He also hopes to meet with Jamaicans battling the disease.
“I have met some people who were in Jamaica recently and they told me there are a lot of groups and individuals doing great work fighting stigma as well as campaigning for more access to treatment. I am going to Jamaica to complement their efforts,”Mr. Zulu said.
He is also a tuberculosis (TB) survivor, who wants to stamp out the stigma associated with those who contract HIV. He said it is because of the stigma why people refuse to get HIV tests done, why they feel like outcasts and are discriminated against, because people feel if you have the disease, then you are either a sex worker or a homosexual.
During a recent call on Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Anne-Marie Bonner, Mr. Zulu said he is looking forward to visiting Jamaica, which he described as the best island in the world. “It’s amazing how such a small island has so much influence in terms of advancing black culture worldwide. Not even the entire African continent has done as much as Jamaica in terms of pushing the African culture on the world’s agenda,” he said.
Admitting that he loves Jamaican music, Mr. Zulu said he has over 2,000 reggae songs on his I-pod, citing Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer and Eric Donaldson among his favourite reggae artistes.
The visit to Jamaica is being facilitated by the Chancellor of Ryerson University, Jamaican-born Ray Chang and Ms. Donette Chin Loy, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the Faculty of Community Services, who are both committed to forging links between Ryerson and other learning institutions, and in particular the UWI.
“I thought if Winstone tells his story to the world, then Jamaica and the wider Caribbean would certainly benefit from hearing him and seeing how he can act on their behalf in helping them to access support from the wider world,” said Ms. Chin Loy.

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