UP THE STANDARD – CHARLIZE THERON
Written by: Menelisi Ndwandwe
The 21st International AIDS Conference was officially opened yesterday with moving and imploring speeches at the Durban International Convention Centre.
Renowned South African and American actress, Charlize Theron, said the country cannot be proud of hosting the conference for the second time.
“It is time that we acknowledge that something is terribly wrong! The truth is we have every tool we need to prevent HIV,” said Theron.
She also warned the delegates about explosive social ills that continue to dominate the society.
“We value some lives more than others’ ‘Straight love or Same Love’ ‘White skins over Black Skins’ ‘The rich over the poor,” she mentioned.
She added that there are four conferences before the target-year (2030), the year that is foreseen as the year of HIV cure and all people must work hard in achieving the target.
Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that HIV has touched all people in all spheres.
“Many lives have been lost. As it has affected ordinary people – families have been torn apart, communities distressed, livelihoods lost and children orphaned. This epidemic has had a devastating impact on the quality of life of millions of people worldwide,” said Ramaphosa.
“People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex should be able to live in a society where they need not fear discrimination, stigmatisation or persecution,” he added.
The International Aids Society and The Elizabeth Taylor Foundation presented the Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award in the field of HIV to Zimbabwean Activist, Martha Tholanah.
In her acceptance speech, Tholanah blamed authorities for making life impossible.
“Governments are using discriminatory laws to simply say to civil society, go away,” she said.
All the speakers remembered former statesman, Dr Nelson Mandela, as it was his birthday and how he encouraged world leaders to prioritised HIV treatment.
*Caption: The Unapologetic Charlize Theron dishing out truth during her address