from diagnosis to health advocacy: celebrating young Black history-makers

By: Results Canada Published: 01/02/2024

In honour of #BlackHistoryMonth and our 2024 campaign to #ReachEveryChild, Results Canada is paying tribute to 10 incredible young Black history-makers in global health, education, nutrition, climate, and gender equality throughout February. Delve into the inspiring stories of these young leaders who are rewriting the narrative and shaping the future through their unwavering commitment to transformative and participatory social justice. Join us in honouring them and their visions for a better future – and better history – for future generations.

Joyce Ouma

Photo supplied by Joyce Ouma.

Joyce Ouma is a 27-year-old youth activist from Kenya living openly with HIV. Driven by this experience, Joyce has dedicated her life to advocate for and advance the rights of adolescents and young people living with HIV in all their diversity, nationally and globally. She is passionate about the meaningful involvement of youth in all decision spaces. She represents adolescents and young people at the Global Fund through the Kenya Coordinating Mechanism, the Communities Delegation to the board, and as an observer of the youth council to the Executive Director.

Joyce was also a 2020 fellow with AVAC, an international non-profit organization that works to accelerate ethical development and equitable delivery of effective HIV prevention options. She was recently a member of the Education Plus Initiative’s Young Women Nerve Center and is currently working as the advocacy and campaigns at the Global Network of Young People living with HIV (Y+ Global).

Learn more about Joyce:

Global Fund Advocates Network - Joyce Ouma

Academic Medica Education - Joyce Ouma

Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi Johnson at the 2000 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. Photo credit: Themba Hadebe / AP

Nkosi Johnson was a South African child activist and one of 70,000+ children born HIV-positive in South Africa in 1989.

HIV was a part of Nkosi’s life from the very beginning as he contracted it from his HIV-positive mother, Nonthlanthla Daphne Nkosi. Daphne passed away when Nkosi was 8 years old, and he was fostered by a volunteer worker by the name of Gail Johnson from whom he inherited his last name. When it was time for Nkosi to start attending school, he faced backlash due to his illness.

Gail and Nkosi both fought hard and soon he became a national figure for his campaign to de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS, working with provincial education departments to raise awareness and implement new policies to battle discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS.

Nkosi is best known for his self-written address at the 13th International Aids Conference in Durban, heard by 10,000 delegates in-person and 60 million others through television.

Less than a year after his address, Nkosi passed away at the age of 12 from AIDS-related illness, the longest-surviving child born with HIV in South Africa at the time. His legacy now lives on through Nkosi's Haven, a housing and support network for HIV-positive mothers and children.

Learn more about Nkosi:

Nkosi Johnson's History

Nkosi Johnson: The child campaigner who changed South Africa

2005 – Nkosi Johnson (12), South Africa

Remembering Nkosi Johnson

Phumeza Tisile

Photo credit: Jelle Krings/ Médecins Sans Frontières

Phumeza Tisile, a 33-year-old woman from Cape Town, South Africa, faced a challenging journey with tuberculosis (TB). In 2010, she received the diagnosis that led her to interrupt her studies at university. Despite undergoing five months of treatment for both "normal" TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), her condition persisted, eventually leading to a diagnosis of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), the most severe form of the disease.

Phumeza was informed many times that her chances of surviving TB were only 20% and the treatment left her deaf. Nevertheless, against all odds, she triumphed over the disease in 2013. In 2015, she had Cochlear Implant surgery, allowing her to hear again. Subsequently, she successfully graduated from the University of Cape Town.

Today, Phumeza is an advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment of TB. She works for TB Proof, based in Cape Town, and is an adviser to the LIGHT global health research programme.

Phumeza emphasizes that “TB is curable, the treatment is horrible but to stay alive I had to take it…to those who have TB, it is not the end of the world. There’s life after TB.”

Learn more about Phumeza:

Phumeza's Instagram

TB Proof - Phumeza Tisile

Phumeza Tisile’s story: surviving the worst of tuberculosis

Our Black History Month profiles were drafted and edited in collaboration with the nominated individuals where and when possible. For further comments or questions, please reach out to us at

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