Durban — HIV/AIDS campaigner and actress Charlize Theron today met Youth Ambassadors who act as role models for their peers and raise awareness of how to prevent the spread of HIV in communities in her native South Africa.
The Youth Ambassador Program trains young men and women, between the age of 18 and 30, in KwaZulu Natal province to disseminate HIV prevention messages by engaging with young people in schools, support groups, churches, at sport events and going door-to-door to meet people in their homes. It is supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
"When I see the enthusiasm and dedication of these young people, who are making such a vital contribution to preventing the spread of HIV with support from the Global Fund, I am fired up with hope and optimism," said Ms. Theron. "We have made great strides in the fight against the disease in a short number of years and we are getting closer to finally defeating this pandemic. With the necessary funding, we can be the generation that defeats AIDS."
South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV in the world. Recent estimates based on the 2011 population census show 6.4 million HIV-positive people in the country. It also has 2.1 million people receiving antiretroviral treatment, more than any other country in the world.
Despite major progress in giving widespread access to treatment, new HIV infections numbered 343,000 in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. More than one third of new infections are among young women and girls, who are highly vulnerable to infection.