Turning Adversity into Advocacy

My journey of overcoming adversity is a source of inspiration for other young people.” Sérgio Gemusse


Sergio foto

Sérgio Gemusse, shared his story at a health fair conducted in the neighborhood of Molutasse, Alto Molócuè District.


Sérgio Gemusse, a 23 year-old from Zambézia Province, serves as an example of deep resilience and strong leadership in his community. In 2015, as a third year student training to become a mid-level medical officer at the Alto Molócuè Health Training Institute, Sérgio discovered that he was HIV-positive. He was experiencing troubling symptoms such as skin conditions and recurrent nocturnal fevers. Accompanied by his older brother, he sought medical attention where a health counselor recommended an HIV test, which confirmed his diagnosis. 

Confronting this life-altering news was a challenge. Sérgio recalls, “It wasn't easy for me to deal with the diagnosis of the disease, but thanks to my brother’s unwavering support, I decided to start treatment immediately.

As he navigated his antiretroviral therapy (ART) journey, Sérgio encountered stigma and discrimination, particularly due to the visible lesions on his arms. At some point, he began to experience painful social ostracization. To deal with this situation, Sérgio shifted his focus away from those who mistreated him and concentrated on his supportive family members and improving his health. 

After six years of committed adherence to ART and demonstrating excellent clinical outcomes, Sérgio was selected to become an Adolescent and Young Adult Mentor (AYM). “I was selected to work as an Adolescent and Young Adult Mentor since I had great clinical results, including an undetectable viral load result. And I had always attended the health facility whenever they scheduled me for an appointment.” 

Sérgio was trained for his new position and began working in February 2021, supporting the Adolescent Friendly Health Services (SAAJ) at the Alto Molócuè Rural Hospital and also the youth of Molutasse Community, where he currently resides.

Living with HIV does not define me. It has taught me to dispel prejudices and support others in understanding that with proper care and treatment, they too can lead healthy lives.” His efforts are part of a broader initiative where, alongside 498 other AYMs supported by FGH, he contributes to the operations of 63 SAAJs across the province.

Drawing from his personal trials, Sérgio uses his story as a tool for advocacy, encouraging young people to share their own experiences and support each other in health-related challenges: “I share my journey not just to educate but to inspire action and mutual support among youth facing similar situations.” 

Sérgio is deeply engaged in his community, promoting HIV awareness and improving health literacy. At health facility talks, community events, and health fairs, Sérgio is meticulous in delivering messages about HIV prevention modalities, the importance of medication adherence, and the benefits of community support groups. He is instrumental in sensitizing youth about HIV, promoting HIV testing and counseling, and supporting persons living with HIV in accessing and adhering to treatment. 

He also praises the role of healthcare providers in mitigating stigma and enhancing the quality of healthcare services for persons living with HIV. Regular on-the-job training, supported by FGH and funded through CDC/PEPFAR, equips him and his colleagues with essential skills in human rights and interpersonal communication, further enhancing the care provided at SAAJ.

Sérgio Gemusse is not only a survivor but a beacon of hope and an agent of change in his community. His journey from patient to mentor encapsulates the power of turning adversity into advocacy, making him an inspiration for many facing similar battles.