Ntuzuma – More than 500 young boys and girls attended the Girls ACT (Awareness Campaign Tour) on Wednesday, 30 November which was hosted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in partnership with the Thandolwethu Community Centre.
The youth who attended the event were tested for HIV/AIDS, taught about the importance of 16 Days of Activism, screened for illnesses by use of the mobile clinic and assisted with social services provided by the local government. Sanitary pads were also distributed to every adolescent girl and young woman in attendance and the latest range of MAX government condoms was distributed to the boys and girls, encouraging them to practice safe sex.
“This Girls ACT is the culmination of these events in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa,” says Larissa Klazinga, the Regional Policy and Advocacy Manager for AHF South Africa. “It has been a phenomenal success that has been welcomed by children and adolescents in Pietermaritzburg, Inanda and Ntuzuma.” “Girls ACT could not have been this successful if it was not for the support of the Department of Health, SASSA, the SAPS, the Black Lawyers Association, Lifeline Pietermaritzburg, MATCH and various other community organizations.”
The theme for the Girls ACT and other AHF World AIDS Days activities taking place throughout 16 Days of Activism, is ‘Keep the Promise’ – a campaign in response to the growing decline in funding for organisations. AHF is urging medical professionals, advocates, patients and the public in general to assist in calling on decision-makers to keep the promise of funding the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“In South Africa we continue to face a HIV/AIDS crisis, especially among adolescent girls and young women who are being infected with HIV at a three times higher rate than their male counterparts,” says Dr Bright Mhlongo, the Medical Director for AHF South Africa. “Since Friday, we have not only been educating girls on how to protect themselves but have also been workshopping young boys and men about sexual health and gender-based violence, encouraging them to become partners in the struggle to end rape, not just for 16 Days of Activism but for the rest of their lives.”
The campaign dubbed Girls’ ACT (Awareness Campaign Tour) was inspired by the compelling fact that young women and adolescent girls account for one in five new HIV infections in Africa. This is highlighted in the 2013 report of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which states that almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women and 80% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.
For World AIDS Day (Thursday 1st December), AHF is supporting the KZN Health Department at events around the Ethekwini District, focusing on the Universal Test and Treat programme.
ABOUT THE AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the world. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 620 000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia.