HIV/Aids

01 December 2017

How locals are raising HIV awareness

People are encouraged to wear beaded red ribbons on Fridays to support those affected with HIV and Aids in the build-up to World Aids Day on 1 December.

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The Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT), a non-profit organisation based in the Valley of a Thousand Hills near Durban, has started a Red Ribbon Fridays campaign to raise awareness of HIV and Aids as well as educate people about the disease.

Weeks ago HACT began visiting schools, churches, sports clubs and community gatherings, supplying people with beaded red ribbons and encouraging them to wear them on Fridays to support those affected with HIV and Aids in the build-up to World Aids Day on 1 December. 

An area in need

"As World Aids Day 2017 approaches, we are starting now to do campaigns so that people won't forget about it. In my understanding, everyday should be Aids day. Another reason we decided to work with people here in the Valley of the Thousand Hills is because HIV and Aids rates in that area are very high. We have seen that it is an area in need, plus there is also a high level of poverty," said Claire Hodgkinson, marketing manager of HACT.

Paula Thomson, head of the Woza Moya and Friends project falling under HACT, said HACT was founded in 1990 by the Hillcrest Methodist Church to focus on the needs of the local rural and poverty-torn communities and help HIV impacted communities through interventions by addressing prevention, care, economic improvement and community outreach.

HACT has grown over the years and now has a 24-bed Respite Unit, offering round-the-clock care to people in advanced stages of Aids.

"The Woza Moya and Friends project is a social enterprise which helps those impacted by HIV/Aids by putting food on the table. We are assisting many of the patients who leave HACT’s Respite Unit by helping them learn new skills, crafts, sewing and beadwork and then after that we sell their products to gain income which is used to buy the healthy food they need. Even the beaded red ribbons for Red Ribbon Fridays are made by them," explained Thomson.

'I have been encouraged'

Shozaphi Dlamini said "I joined HACT in 2000 when I was unemployed. I came here to do bead work and I am proud to say now I can put food on the table for my family."

Another member of Woza Moya and Friends, Elizabeth Mgaga, said "I have been encouraged. I can now provide for my family thanks to the skills and training I've received at HACT."

HACT is encouraging all South Africans to join their campaign and wear red ribbons on Fridays to support those affected with HIV/Aids. 

"Let our actions count," encouraged Hodgkinson. – Health-e News.

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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