Emani Coleman

Emani Coleman

Sexucation (coming soon)

Emani Coleman (she, her, hers) leans into her Aries traits whenever she can. A determined and joyful leader, she loves mysteries and likes to pursue topics that others might consider taboo. At age 17, inspired by her extended family and supported by Project L.I.Y.T, Emani decided to unravel a particularly taboo mystery for young people her age: HIV and sexual health. If we encouraged young people’s curiosity, she wondered, how could we demystify sex education and empower young people to take ownership of their own health and sexuality? Her solution was Sexucation, an app that allows young people to privately access factual and non-stigmatizing information on sex and sexual health.

Emani had noticed that, among her peers, information on sex, STIs and HIV was being shared mostly through stigmatizing
rumors. She grew frustrated—Emani’s uncle, who lived with HIV, had recently passed away. “He chose not to let this disease defeat him,” she says. Determined to change the narrative (and excited to exercise her coding skills), Emani developed the self-guided app Sexucation, which provides interactive learning modules and quizzes, and encourages young people to engage with their peers in constructive discussion forums. “Things like HIV can make a person really fearful—but you can live a normal life with HIV.” Through education, she believes, it’s possible to take control of the narrative, defeat stigma and empower young people to live as their full selves.

As a L.I.Y.T Scholar, Emani has gained confidence in herself and is grateful to Project L.I.Y.T for giving her space to experiment, make mistakes and grow. “I feel joyful,” she says. “We’re young and we have the space to be innovative.” She’s
actively searching for ways to grow her app as well as vet and design content with her community and peers. She wants the content to be as factual as possible and representative of the diverse young people it engages. She’s also determined to learn more about application development, financing similar projects and promoting solutions like Sexucation.

Ultimately, Emani hopes that the app will help individuals affected by HIV to define their own experience. “Hopefully a person who reads [the app] can create their own perspective.”

This Amp Grantee Innovator Profile was developed as part of the Positive Action for Youth (PAFY) initiative and the Amp Grant initiative. PAFY advances ViiV Healthcare’s commitment to supporting a range of community-driven activities that amplify the voices of young leaders and activate innovative solutions to combat HIV, with the ultimate goal of empowering youth with the tools, networks and resources they need to seek and stay engaged in care. Learn more about ViiV programs and initiatives at www.viivhealthcare.com/en-us, and on Twitter at @ViiVUS

Illustrations provided by Farah Jeune, artist and creator/producer/host of Farenheight TV.

ZonaSegura ZonaSegura is a trauma-informed youth-centered innovative mobile solution to address teen dating violence in Honduras. Learn more about ZonaSegura on our program page.