A comprehensive advocacy project in Nigeria, Uganda and Myanmar, working with communities affected by or at risk of HIV.

Project Summary:
PhotoVoice delivered photography workshops in Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria with participants sharing perspectives on HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights.


Project Location:
Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria

Project Managers:
Tom Elkins
Kate Watson
Kallina Brailsford

Kate Watson
Tom Elkins
Lauren Parr
Kallina Brailsford

Frontline AIDS

Frontline AIDS

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Project description:
Frontline AIDS works to build knowledge, mobilise people and inspire leadership, allowing all voices to play significant roles in the response to HIV. 

In 2018 – 2019, PhotoVoice delivered a series of workshops to support the Alliance’s programme ‘Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response’ (PITCH) 

PITCH aimed to strengthen local organisations’ capacity to advocate, generate evidence and develop robust policy solutions for upholding individuals and communities’ rights to HIV, sexual and reproductive health services. The programme supports key populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who use drugs and adolescent girls and young women. 

To support the project PhotoVoice delivered participatory photography workshops in three countries; Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria. Advocates and Young Emerging Champions from PITCH partner organisations created photo advocacy messages that reflect on their experiences of and perspectives on rights and access to health services.   

New materials created by these participants were incorporated into partners ongoing advocacy strategies, and targeted at key audiences to strengthen the case for improved rights and access to HIV and SRHR related health services, prevention from HIV and protection of the rights of the communities that they work with.   

The issue: 
In 2016, 36.7 million people were living with HIV. HIV prevalence is estimated to be: 

  • 24 times higher among people who inject drugs 
  • 10 times higher among sex workers 
  • 24 times higher among gay men and other men who have sex with men
  • 49 times higher among transgender people than among the rest of the adult population. 
  • Young women (10-24 years old) are twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men the same age. The people who most need HIV services often have poor access to effective treatment and prevention options. In 2016, there were 1.8 million new HIV infections worldwide, highlighting the need for increased prevention services. In 2016, 17.2 million people with HIV were not receiving lifesaving treatment globally. As a result of this, 1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

Communities who are stigmatised, criminalised or discriminated against – such as men who have sex with men, members of the LGBT community, sex workers, people who use drugs and adolescent girls and young women face significant human rights violations that make them more vulnerable to acquiring HIV.  

For example, a lack of power in personal, institutional and political spaces will impact key population’s sexual health rights, including their agency and choice over the use of condoms, and how and with whom they have sex. 

Additionally, fear of arrest or ill treatment may cause people who use drugs to be reluctant to carry new syringes or disclose their drug use to health professionals. Among others, these factors impede key populations rights and access to HIV and SRHR related health services.   

The PITCH project used an advocacy application of PhotoVoice’s methodology to ensure that key populations feedback their experiences of being affected by HIV, sexual and reproductive health services and campaign for positive change.

A series of in-country trips took place in Uganda, Myanmar and Nigeria. Each trip consisted of one-week training with PITCH partner organisation staff, and two-weeks participatory photography workshops with PITCH Young Advocates.

Building local organisation’s capacity for advocacy and leveraging local knowledge, PhotoVoice provided training on its approach as a tool for advocacy, communications and research. The training covers technical aspects of digital photography and how participatory photography can be used throughout the PITCH programme. Cameras and equipment were be left with participants to ensure the sustainability and continuation of the project.

Participant workshops built photographic skills and explored the communities’ experiences of HIV and sexual and reproductive rights, informing the development of key advocacy messages. Feeding back their experiences, priorities and opinions on relevant services through their work provided insight and tools for change.

Project Outputs: 
Participants have identified key audiences for photo advocacy, and developed targetted messaging to strengthen the case for improved access to health services, prevention from HIV and protection of the rights of the communities that they work with. Drawing on these findings individual case studies have been developed following, 1:1 interviews, providing an opportunity for participants to expand on their advocacy messages and share a deeper insight into the issues that affect them and their priority areas for change.

In Uganda, 12 staff members and 12 young advocates worked on the project, creating 113 captioned images, 7 case studies and 2 digital stories. These materials were used 33 times in exhibitions, at conferences, in strategic meetings, and campaigns.

In Myamnar, 12 staff members and 12 young advocates worked on the project, creating 81 captions images, 4 case studies and 3 digital stories. These materials were subsequently used 34 times in a range of similar activities. 

In Nigeria, 10 staff members and 13 young advocates worked on the project, creating 73 captioned images, 5 case studies and 4 digital stories. These materials were subsequently used 48 times in a variety of activities. 

The outputs were used in a range of PITCH reports. 

Project Outcomes
In Uganda, advocacy materials generated during the programme led to the government endorsing the development of harm reduction interventions in Uganda.

Targeted work with police in Kampala led to a change in policy from ‘arrest and detain’ with drug users, to ‘arrest and refer to services’. 

A reported reduction in cases of gender-based violence where participant materials were used in community sensitisation campaigns. 

New advocacy champions were recruited through the programme, creating a new generation willing to fight for change. 

In Myanmar, advocacy materials which highlighted socially responsible activities around a methadone centre successfully led to securing a new methadone centre in Mandalay.

Photographic materials were used outside of Yangon to help promote education on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, targeting communities with lower literacy levels. 

In Nigeria, participant images were used to gather media and public support in a case where 57 people were arrested under anti-homosexuality laws. Shared images were part of a wider media push which led to protests, and the eventual discharge of all those arrested within a week.

Materials were used to convince legislators to lower the age of consent to access health services to 14.

Participant materials were used in sensitisation work with families, which led to a drop from 83% to 60% of people stating they wouldn’t accept an LGBTQI+ family member, between 2017 and 2019.

Police agreed to distribute calendars showing participant stories across 10 states in Nigeria, helping to raise awareness and understanding of community member’s circumstances. 

Participant Feedback:
“Thank you for this life changing experience – I can’t wait to apply the skills to my work.”

“I am one of the key populations and I know to develop key messages through the photos and share them. We can use our photos at events and these photos tell our story. The photos speak instead of us.”

“PhotoVoice provides a way to increase the visibility of the groups we work with. I use photos of transgender women in my advocacy work and activities to show the community and other stakeholders that transgender people do exist and their needs must be addressed.”

Header Image: © Didi 2018 | PhotoVoice | Frontline AIDS | ‘PITCH’ | Nigeria

There are some people who don’t like to eat fruit. There are some who prefer a particular fruit and some like to mix two fruits.

Some choices are made for us, like family and the color of our skin. We do not choose our sexuality, but we should be respected for who we are.

Live and let live.”

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