End Inequalities, End AIDS was the theme of the UKZN-sponsored World AIDS Day event in Umlazi, Durban.
The programme – designed to encourage young people to get tested and be in control of their health by making informed decisions about their bodies – was hosted by Durban Global Shapers, an international network of hubs developed and led by young people, and sponsored by UKZN’s Extended Learning (UEL) Division.
Commenting on the day’s events, Durban Global Shapers member Ms Thembalethu Ntuli said: ‘World AIDS Day is an opportunity for our communities to fight against HIV/AIDS by showing support for those who have been diagnosed and for others who have died from the disease. The day is geared to inform people about the scourge, its symptoms and how it spreads. It is absolutely critical that we continue to educate ourselves about HIV/AIDS to remove misconceptions and the attached stigma.
‘Our outreach as the Global Shaper Community (GSC) in Umlazi was a reminder to the community that the scourge has not gone away and thus there is still an urgent need for increased funding for the HIV/AIDS response to increase awareness about the impact of the disease on people’s lives and to improve the quality of life of sufferers,’ said Ntuli. ‘As the GSC Durban Hub it is critical for us to continue engaging with communities on the issues of healthcare and we look forward to creating more sustainable programmes with other communities in Durban.’
There were facilities at the event where youngsters from the age of 14 were offered blood sugar testing, sexual health education, counselling, and HIV and TB screening.
Guest speaker Ms Nqobile Ndlovu of the Noxolo Nqobile Foundation focused on the importance of prevention, urging local communities and civil society organisations to be more accepting of HIV/AIDS sufferers. Emphasising how it was possible to live a healthy and holistic life while infected, she highlighted the importance of young people being adequately educated about the disease and called for more awareness about the mental issues involved.
UEL’s Marketing Assistant Ms Nkosingiphile Ntshangase said: ‘UKZN Extended Learning is committed to partnering on programmes and initiatives that contribute and serve those most in need. Through our partnership with community-based organisations and government institutions, we aim to contribute to developing innovations to assist individuals and communities and combat structural factors and inequalities which drive the disease.’