HIV/AIDS stigma still a significant problem in South Africa
Kwakwatsi, a Kwanda community near Sasolburg in the Free State, has taken momentous steps to decrease HIV/AIDS infections and to challenge the stigma related to the disease. These issues and others are explored by Kwakwatsi community members in Kwanda Talk a community-based talk show produced by the Soul City Institute in partnership with the Department of Social Development and SABC 1. Kwanda Talk is aired every Thursday on SABC 1 from 21h30 to 22h00.
“As we draw closer to world AIDS day, everyone all over the world will talk about HIV/AIDS. What is key is to talk about the prevalent issues that we still struggle with”, says Lebo Ramafoko, the CEO of the Soul City: Institute for Health and Development Communication.
According to Ramafoko, stigma remains one of the biggest challenges in our country. The Kwanda programme aimed to fight this problem and encourage positive living. Because of stigma, says Ramafoko, people do not want to test for HIV and struggle to live openly with the disease.
The Kwanda team in Kwakwatsi raised community awareness and encouraged people to test by conducting a march to the local clinic. In a focus on youth they delivered HIV education at schools.
“The epidemic seems to be slowing down here in South Africa, but our country still has the highest number of infected people in the world. That is why social change communication is critical to encourage safer sex and regular testing,” says Ramafoko.
The latest National HIV Communications Survey, recently presented at the International AIDS Conference in Washington shows that 63% of those most exposed to social change communication used condoms at their last sexual encounter, compared to 41% in those who were not exposed.
“Kwanda Talk inspires community members to take action in their communities and make them look better, feel better and work better. It also invites viewers to engage in the discussions via SMS, twitter, facebook and mobi-site,” says Ramafoko.