Every day there are 2,000 new HIV infections and a quarter of these infections affect are girls and women between the ages of 15 – 24. In addition, 25 million of the 35 million living with HIV worldwide reside in Sub-Saharan Africa (70%).
According to the most recent HSRC HIV prevalence survey, more than 400,000 new HIV infections occurred in 2012, with South Africa ranking first in HIV incidence in the world.This means that traditional HIV interventions have largely failed, with the proportion of South Africans living with with HIV having increased from 10.6% in 2008 to 12.2% in 2012,and the HIV incidence in young women rating more than four times higher than males.
We cannot ignore the fact that it’s girls and young women that bear the brunt of the epidemic as they have been found to account for more than 40% of new infections in South Africa. Around 76% of people aged 15 and older believe they are not at risk of contracting HIV, yet one in 10 were already infected with HIV but didn’t know it, according to the study. Adding fuel to the fire, teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence, transactional relationships and rape have escalated, and now more than ever, vulnerable women need to become empowered and supported to claim their rightful place in the South African socio-economic and political economy.
To date, Choma has touched the lives of more than 206, 404 individuals across Facebook, Mxit, Mobi, as well online and of fline interactions. Choma’s key behaviour change communication goals are linked to improving HIV prevention and health knowledge,in fluencing positive attitudes and ultimately resulting in behaviour change to contribute towards the next HIV free generation.
Choma’s great success has accelerated nationally and internationally garnering supporting from our strategic partners. So much so, that together with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Victoria Beckham landed on SA’s shores to make her first trip as UN goodwill ambassador for AIDS charity UNAIDS to voice her support for Choma and young women affected and infected by HIV. During a visit to Kliptown in Soweto, Victoria met and meaningfully interacted with hopeful young women and girls to spread HIV-free messaging and inspire them to follow their dreams and dream big. Nomzamo Mbatha, Isibaya star, actress and Choma ambassador also attended the event and collaborated with the girls.
Victoria, Nomzamo and the girls had the opportunity to share their stories and write on the Choma graf fiti wall, created by artist Sheldon Wins. The wall showcased the bold words “Inspire positive change” and aims to be an interactive platform for young women to express themselves and tell the world what inspires them in order to become driven to achieve their dreams and remain HIV free. In a tweet, Victoria wrote: “Inspiring day in Soweto visiting @hivsa with @ejaf”, and “Meeting young women in Soweto, spreading HIV free messages. Education + art = Aids free future.”.
This event was part of the larger Choma Inspire Campaign which aims to empower young women with foundational self-esteem, self awareness and to connect them with their dreams, to each other, and with information relating to sexual reproductive health as well as entertainment and lifestyle content that appeals to the youth.
HIVSA would like to sincerely thank Victoria, Nomzamo and the Elton John AIDS Foundation for their great support, and for joining us in inspiring positive change as we empower the next HIV free generation.