SOUTH AFRICA: YOUTH URGED TO TAKE UP HIV ‘PREVENTION REVOLUTION’

PRETORIA, As South Africans all over the country celebrated Youth Day on Friday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged all young people to take up the "Prevention Revolution".

He said this on the eve of National Youth Day commemoration, when he addressed the 8th Southern African Aids Conference held in Durban.

The Deputy President said the prevention revolution is a generation of South African youth, like those of 1976, who will make history.

They will end the spread of a disease that often stands between them and their dreams, between them and their future, between them and their loved ones. 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. They can use WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to remind their sexually active friends to always practice safe sex. With their two thumbs they can promote awareness and tolerance. They can empower, support and heal, said the Deputy President.

He said South Africa will not succeed to expand the frontiers of freedom and human fulfilment if it does not involve and prioritise young people.

Our freedom will remain incomplete if we continue to discriminate against vulnerable populations like men who have sex with men, sex workers, members of the LGBTI community and those who inject drugs.

He said for the country's freedom to thrive and flourish, South Africans must collectively build public institutions that protect the dignity of all and prevent stigmatisation and social exclusion.

The Deputy President also said government shares the outrage and anger of millions of South Africans about the spread of gender-based violence. He said society correctly views this conduct as inexcusable and reprehensible.

We must stand together to say it is unacceptable for a man to raise a hand to strike a women. All men must say: Not in my name.

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.

We therefore welcome the Declaration of the Higher Education AIDS (HEAIDS) National Youth Conference.

The declaration was handed to government leaders by close to 2000 youth gathered at the end of the HEAIDS conference that was held in Durban last week, ahead of the Southern African AIDS conference.

He said the declaration tells all that the young people of South Africa care deeply about collective future and are actively seeking a better life for all.

This Declaration tells us young people are not walking away from the challenges they face. They are confronting these challenges with passion, focus and, above all, solutions of their own.

We call on the young people who attended the conference to take the message to other young people in their households, communities and institutions of learning. We applaud the youth for being outspoken and innovative. We applaud the youth for holding political leadership to account.

The Deputy President also said the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (NSP 2017-2022) equips the country to strengthen interventions to continue driving down new HIV and TB infections.

While we acknowledge the huge gains we have made, we remain alive and anxious about the persistently high levels of new infection among young girls and women.

He said initiatives such as the She Conquers campaign, will enable the society 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.

I would like to thank all the partners who are supporting this campaign and urge all of you to encourage the private sector and all other sectors to support this national effort.

What we must all continue to focus on is prevention. Prevention is the most critical pillar of all our endeavours.

Our response will leave no one behind. The NSP enjoins us to respond to the needs of marginalised populations. We continue to expand this work; the Premier launched the LGBTI plan at this Conference last night and as government, we welcome this new plan and commit to support its implementation.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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