University of Brighton graduate who lost both parents to AIDS awarded grant from Elton John AIDS Foundation

Graham Robson March 27, 2024

Caroline Mukebezi, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Health Promotion from the University of Brighton’s School of Sports and Health Sciences, has been awarded $50,000 from Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) for her project aimed at improving access to HIV response for vulnerable people – especially adolescents and young girls – in her native Uganda.

With support from EJAF, the organisation founded by Caroline, Pathway Foundation for Health and Economic Empowerment (PFHEE), will run a two-year project working with community health institutions and local leaders to improve access to HIV testing, reduce stigma associated with the disease and build the capacity of health workers through training and workshops.

While studying at Brighton, Caroline was a beneficiary of the University of Brighton Forward Bound Scholarship which has supported Health Promotion MSc applicants from low or lower-middle income countries since 2015. The award provides educational funding for health and other professionals who are employed or volunteer in roles where they will be able to influence and shape health promotion practice and policy on their return.

Caroline said: “I wouldn’t have been able to do all these things if not for the Forward Bound Scholarship, which made it possible for me to come to Brighton to get all this knowledge. The chance to learn, to study and then use that knowledge and put it into practise has greatly impacted me and brought a lot of other opportunities. It has been truly life changing and I don’t take it for granted.

“I am excited for the many young girls and boys in Uganda who will benefit from our work thanks to this grant from EJAF. With these funds, we will improve access to HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights services. We will also focus on providing mental health support for people living with HIV/AIDS while building the capacity of other local organisations to offer such services”.

Caroline lost her father to HIV/AIDS when she was six years old, and her mother to the same disease years later. In Uganda, limited access to health information and care contribute to high number of HIV-related deaths annually.

Caroline continued: “Losing my parents at an early age, due to our inability to afford treatment and the strained quality of care they received, formed my resolve to significantly contribute to improving the experience of other people living with the disease. University of Brighton gave me the knowledge and skills to translate this passion to support people into a real-life organisation, taking into consideration the local context and the policies and laws in my country.”