International AIDS Conference
Venue: The Hilton Hotel, Durban
Date: 07 July 2016
Youth Dialogue on HIV and AIDS
The Youth dialogue was held as part of the AIDS Conference.
The MEC of health in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Dhlomo took the stage first as one of the speakers of the day. He was one of the main speakers at the youth dialogue.
Dr Dhlomo started by commending South Africa on it’s very extremely HIV treatments; saying that an amazing 3.5 million HIV infected South Africans are on treatment.
This is the largest and best HIV treatment in the world. This means that South Africa has the largest number of people on ARVs in the world.
He continued to say that this year the main target or focus is on young women and girls between the ages 15-24 “as new infections are largest among them.”
He pointed out that when young men between the same age groups these girls and young women are tested during circumcision the virus is hardly if ever found in young men and hence the Department of health has put the focus on young women.
Nandi Zulu from the Zulu Royal House was the second speaker. Miss Zulu, an advisor to the program spends most of her time educating young people about HIV/AIDS and other issues that affect young people.
She stressed the importance of prayer for all the problems that we as a country may be facing. She said that each year there is a new battle. She said that the only way we can go forward is if we pray for solutions.
She said that the youth are the future and our current leadership is getting old an thus the youth should use the power they have to change their circumstances.
Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, identifies the youth as the most important sector in the country in terms of development. He continued sating that 60% of the population is made up of youth.
He said that the 21st AIDS Conference will bring together scientists and people all over the world to try and show all the advances being taken to combat HIV.
He said, people living with HIV in the country are getting treatment to help them live healthier lives.
The role of the youth was a regular theme at the 21st AIDS Conference.
He said that the youth of today is facing slightly different obstacles from the youth 1976.
Radebe echoed what Dhlomo was saying about Anti-Retroviral roll out.
He continued to say that the youth of 2016 are very vulnerable to crime and violence.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that there has been a vision map set for 2030, this is a plan for what they will be doing in 2030:
1. Life expectancy: life expectancy should be 70 years old. If people die at an early or younger stage this means that there is low development in that country.
2. Aim for a generation of fewer under 20 year olds who are HIV/AIDS free.
3. Deal with burden of the four main highways to the grave. We must know and block these high ways. These main high ways being:
• HIV/AIDS and TB
• Maternal and child mortality. The aim is to eradicate and reduce maternal and child mortality.
• Diseases of the life-style like; high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and lung.
“Prevention is better than cure,” said Motsoaledi.
Soon after the talks followed a lively debate and the young people who had attended the 21st were eager to participate in the debate.
Lusanda Zwane; a Medical student, stood out among all the students. She had many comments and queries. She spoke about greed among the youth and the importance of HIV dialogues happening at home between young women and their parents in order to combat the HIV pandemic.
She made an appeal to accept that not every one can afford a certain life-styles. This life-style being of young girls, going to trips over-seas, with the latest hair and latest weaves. She said that perpetuates the ‘need’ for young girls to sleep with older men (known as Blessers) in order to finance their lavish and expensive life-styles.
She said that due to lack of resources at home, the youth ends up being vulnerable to things like falling prey to older men and thus start participating in things like Transactional sex.
These young girls end up sleeping with old men in order to finance their expensive life styles and therefore the rise in HIV infection among teenage girls and young women.