15 June 2017

South Africa: Youth Urged to Lead the Long Walk to Prevention

Pretoria — South Africa's current youth need to make history and take up the HIV and Aids prevention revolution, like those of 1976.

"The Long Walk to Prevention calls for the energy, vibrancy and infinite resourcefulness of young people. They must lead the Prevention Revolution because prevention is the pillar of our response," said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He was addressing the 8th South African National AIDS Conference in Durban on Thursday.

The Deputy President believes that the youth can end the spread of a disease that often stands between them and their future.

Deputy President Ramaphosa, who is also the chairperson of South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), said they can use social networks like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to spread the message and remind their sexually active friends to always practice safe sex.

"Today's youth have a strong and powerful ally. They inhabit an interconnected global village. They are able to appropriate social media to promote prevention and healthy lifestyles," he said, adding that with their two thumbs they can promote awareness and tolerance.

During his address, Deputy President Ramaphosa also praised activists for their determination, courage and selfless activism in refusing to submit to injustice and ignorance about the Aids pandemic.

"Since the dawn of our democracy, we have been on a quest to respond to the myriad social, economic, political and cultural problems that confront our people. The National Development Plan is now the road map for building a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa."

Under the NDP, Deputy President Ramaphosa said government will continue to transform the structure of the economy, expand initiatives which will ensure that we create more jobs and build a more equitable and cohesive society.

However, these initiatives will succeed only government partners with civil society as they did for the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs which are examples of successful partnerships.

Despite the huge gains that had been made in the fight against HIV, the Deputy President raised concern over the persistent high levels of new infections, with adolescent girls and young women being disproportionately affected.

Government has put in place initiatives such as the "She Conquers Campaign", which will enable it to ensure that adolescent girls and young women remain HIV-free. The campaign addresses gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and links young people to economic opportunities.

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