News / Africa

HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaigns Target South African Children

Multimedia

Audio
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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More