The Knowledge Room

Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Richard and his friends at the Knowledge Room
Amanda Ntambiko/EGPAF

By the end of his O levels, the first stage of high school, Richard knew he had what it takes to start and succeed in business. He talked to his family and got start-up capital for a boutique, stocking modern and new clothes for young people. His eye for style is undeniable and Richard soon had a thriving business. 

Richard is serious about saving money and does this through a local savings club. Richard is in a relationship, but his partner doesn’t live in the area. While Richard is committed to using condoms and gets these and lubricants through the Knowledge Room, he admits that “you can’t be sure about what happens when people go out to party. Your partner might also not always want to use a condom.”

As such, Richard does his best to bring his partner for testing when they visit. Richard takes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and for this he is grateful to the Knowledge Room.

“When we were in school all the students couldn't wait to come to the Knowledge Room to play pool, but we did not know that it would save us,” says Richard. “I take PrEP and am not going to stop. I have told others—I have so many friends like me and we talk a lot about sex and protecting our lives. I just tell them to come over because it’s not like a hospital. The staff is always friendly, and you can just come and watch a movie and have fun. I know when they come, they will get tested, get condoms, and PrEP.”

The Knowledge Room is a Drop In Center in Rubaare Trading Center, established under the District Health System to provide safe and conducive HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment services for marginalized and at risk groups. The Knowledge Room is part of the Rubaare Health Center IV, which receives technical support from the USAID Regional Health Integration To Enhance Services in South West Uganda (USAID RHITES –SW) project. The room is a colorful space equipped with a pool table and a television, making it an ideal hang-out spot.  It is staffed by health workers and social workers who provide HIV services. The center also provides free condoms, lubricant, and PrEP.

Safe community-based youth-friendly spaces like the Knowledge Room supported by USAID RHITES-SW project are making it easier for at-risk youth to access quality HIV prevention and treatment services without being afraid of discrimination. 

(Note that names have been changed to respect the privacy of participants.)

Last updated: April 03, 2020

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