Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi presided over official opening of the South African Exhibition Stall at the International AIDS Conference in Netherlands, Amsterdam held under the theme “Breaking Barriers Building Bridges”. South Africa is represented by a strong delegation of more than 500 Aids activists, researchers, and scientists, government officials, Students, HIV/Aids ambassadors as well as Premiers, Deputy Ministers and MECs.
The Exhibition Stall, fondly called Vilakazi Street, is a South African corner and home and it shares South Africa’s stories, challenges and achievements on the fight against HIV. The stall didn’t miss an opportunity to join the centenary celebration mood of Albertina Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. This rainbow nation corner shares some of the most profound quotes made by Dr Nelson Mandela on HIV/AIDS. This is also a corner where HIV activists such as Prudence Mabele who is counted among the first black women to publicly declare their own status and known for her resilience and the fortitude to fight the stigma when it was not fashionable to do so. Tseko Simon Nkoli who was involved in the struggles against apartheid within the ranks of UDF and was detained in the Delmas trial as one of the Vaal 22 who was one of the first publicly HIV-positive African gay men is also celebrated through the stall.
Unlike all the stalls in the exhibitions, the South African stalls was a promising zone of actions and commitments on how to deal with challenges presented, the government responded immediately to requests from civil society which did not mince its words in reminding government of its promises.
The chairperson of deputy chairperson of SANAC Steve Letsele, whose contributions to this conference has always emphasized actions than meaningless rhetoric took it to the podium and appreciated the history shared as well as government commitment to help eliminating HIV-AIDS.
” The global statistics says transgender gender population are 49 time higher of contracting the HIV than any other population and we need to be concerned “
“I’m happy about the presence of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MECs who are present here. Umfundisi reminded us of ‘adopt a sector’, meaning that 18 sectors we work with, adopt a sector, work with them to deliver so we can create change.” On the spot the Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu adopted the men’s sector, Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkongi adopted sex workers and committed to speak with police to shift focus on prohibiting them to operate but declared to protect them against harm and abuse. Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi adopted people living with HIV and requested all MECs to adopt a sector in their respective provinces.
The Deputy Minister Hendrietta Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu instantly convened the men’s sector to draft a programmatic plan of action where men will respond to HIV/AIDS debacle. The ministry committed resources to assist men programmes, in this meeting the ACTIVATE! Network was represented by Kgotso Sothoane who was positive that ACTIVATE! will assist in mobilisation of adolescent boys and young men throughout the country .“ Through partnership with various stakeholders including A! Men, we will assist in mobilizing young men in the network to participate in dialogues, men parliaments and other activities to be hosted across the country. We are confident that we are equal to the task as one of those organisation with documented evidence of coordinating successful men-focused engagements across the country including the Intergenerational Men’s Summit hosted in March 2018 in Gauteng. We have no doubt that we can replicate this success anywhere because we have armed ready activists who are thirsty for such developments.”