DURBAN– South Africa’s current generation of youth has been urged to make history and take up the revolution of HIV and AIDS prevention just like the youth of 1976 whose protests against the Afrikaans policy in schools stirred the full struggle against apartheid.
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 when addressing the 8th South African National AIDS Conference in Durban here Thursday.
The Deputy President believes that the youth — whose actions on June 16 1976 in Soweto, Johannesburg, led to the day being declared Youth Day — can end the spread of a disease which often stands between the youth and their future.
Ramaphosa, who is also chairperson of the 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 practise safe sex.
Today’s youth have a strong and powerful ally. They inhabit an inter-connected 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.
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, Ramaphosa said, the government would 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 if the government partners with civil society as they did for the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections (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.
The 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.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK