A pretty model and beauty queen, who also happens to be HIV positive, has won the 2017 edition of the Miss Congo UK beauty pageant.
According to the website Tuko, Horcelie Sinda Wa Mbongo was crowned Miss Congo UK 2017 at a gala ceremony held at the Stratford Town Hall in London.
22-year-old Horcelie was born with the virus but had no idea she was positive until was about 11 years old. The beauty queen who is originally from the democratic republic of Congo is a student at the Chelsea College of Arts where she is pursuing a degree in fine arts.
Horcelie, overwhelmed with emotions said after her win: “I’m happy I’ve won at least something in my life. My story has warmed people’s hearts and that’s the most important thing,” adding that she hoped her story will serve as an inspiration to others.
Horcelie has been an active campaigner in the war against HIV/Aids and she has been an advocate of living positively with the disease.
She said she plans to return to the Congo to continue her work in collaboration with a youth-led group called Youth Stop AIDS, which campaigns “for a world without AIDS.”
A United Nations 2015 estimate puts the number of people living with HIV in the Democratic Republic of Congo at about 370,000, with a prevalence rate of 0.8% among adults aged 15-49. It also puts the number of affected orphans aged 0-17 at 330,000.
Organisers say the Miss Congo UK beauty pageant seeks to “celebrate Congolese beauty and empower Congo women.” This year’s edition perhaps goes one step further with that dictum as it appears to put the spotlight on people living with HIV/Aids in the Congo in particular, and all of Africa in general.