News / Africa

HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaigns Target South African Children


Lisa Schlein

About 5.7 million people in South Africa are living with HIV, including approximately 280,000 children under the age of 15.  In addition, between 1.5 and three million so-called AIDS orphans have lost one or both parents to this disease. South Africa runs several HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and some are specifically targeted to children.

The Johannesburg suburb of Soweto is particularly hard-hit by the AIDS epidemic and multiple advocacy groups are offering various programs that are trying to keep children HIV/AIDS-free.  One educational video describes the results of a behavioral study on HIV/AIDS.  The study was carried out in the 10 southern African countries in which the Soul City Institute works.  The research indicates multiple and concurrent partnerships between men and women are the key drivers of the HIV epidemic in the region.

The video presents graphic scenes of couples engaging in sexually risky behavior.  Other scenes show what partners must do to protect themselves from getting HIV.

Susan Goldstein, senior executive for the Soul City South African Program, says her organization has never encountered any problems with the sexually explicit scenes portrayed in their AIDS awareness campaign.

"We believe that children need to have as much information as they can in order to make healthy choices," said Goldstein. "We have never had a negative reaction.  I think South Africa has reached a stage in the epidemic where most parents are only too pleased that somebody is talking to them about sex to their children.  And, if it takes a little of stress off themselves, all the better."  

Soul City also produces a weekly TV drama aimed at 8 to 12 year olds.  The show, called "Soul Buddyz,"  provides life-saving messages in an entertaining manner to children before they become sexually active.  The TV show has spawned a radio show and a national network of 6,000 Soul Buddyz Clubs.

Themba Motaung, from the Soul City Institute, says the purpose of the clubs is to protect children from HIV, from violence, bullying and other dangers that exist by empowering them with knowledge. More than 120,000 children are members of the clubs, according to Motaung.  He says the children become social advocates for change within their peer groups, as well as within their homes and communities.  

"I believe once they are empowered, they should be strong enough to be to make those decisions," Motaung said.  "Because in a world of materialism, you want to teach children, the Soul Buddyz program teaches children values.  So they should be empowered to make the right choices.  That is what the Soul Buddyz club program is all about."  

Four groups of children are huddled in intense discussions.  The topic chosen for this week's meeting of the Soul Buddyz club is bullying.  But, they are quite ready to talk about HIV and AIDS to interested visitors.

Mbali, 11, explains what she does as a Soul Buddyz peer educator. "I teach them not to be worried about what diseases they do have and I teach them to not worry about some child when they are teasing them and saying, 'Yeah, you -- you have HIV' and things like that," she said.  "I am telling them to not worry about that."  

Provincial trainer, Thuli, trains facilitators about how to run a club.  She is in charge of 800 Soul Buddyz clubs in Gauteng Province in Soweto.  She says that since most of the children in the clubs come from disadvantaged families, Soul Buddyz tries to build up their self-esteem and teach them to care for each other.  

"We find kids with some real serious problems, others have been abused by parents," said Thuli.  "Others have got parents who are alcoholic.  Others, they are from child-headed families where there are no parents.  Others, they stay with Grannies where the granny can not take care of the child anymore.  So, with Soul Buddyz, we are trying to bring them together and let them work with other kids, and feel they are part of another family."  

While Soul City and other advocacy groups are committed to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and have been found effective in what they do, the statistics are not on their side.

World Health Organization figures from 2008 show that more than 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV and two million had died of AIDS.  

As of now, the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has provided anti-retroviral therapy to 2.8 million HIV victims.  While that is substantial, WHO says 9.5 million people in developing countries are in need of life-saving AIDS drugs.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs