World AIDS Day 2020: “We’re in this together, Checka Impilo”

2 Feb 2021 - 12:45

A group of socially-distanced people listen to a speaker at the front of the room.Under the theme “We’re in this together, Check’a Impilo”, the World AIDS Day 2020 event at Solomon Mahlangu Hall in Khayelitsha on 1st December highlighted progress towards the 90-90-90 targets in South Africa and the latest developments in biomedical research on HIV treatment and prevention.

University of Cape Town PhD scholar Mthawelanga Ndengane spoke about the importance of community engagement with research. Although his work is mainly laboratory-based, he emphasised that it would not be possible without the samples donated by community members who volunteered to participate in research studies. He thanked the community for their vital participation in clinical trials and said that he hoped to see more community-based sessions as part of science engagement efforts.

CIDRI-Africa collaborated with the Anova Health Institute, City of Cape Town Health Department, Hope for Africa, Khayelitsha Education Forum, Khayelitsha Health Forum, Treatment Action Campaign, Western Cape Provincial Department of Health, and new partner Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, for this year’s youth-focused World AIDS Day commemoration.

Close to 70 youth participants ranging in age from 19-30 from around Khayelitsha attended.  Discussions centred youth-focused programmes as each organisation relayed their work on health services for and with the youth.  Other non-health-related issues such as unemployment were discussed, with Hope for Africa enrolling young people into their Stepping Stone project. The collaborating partners provided attendees with a safe space to “checka impilo” through on-site services including HIV testing, TB screening, PrEP initiation, and family planning.

Many of the youth said that they had had a difficult year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and felt that HIV/AIDS-related support had waned as focus shifted to control of the novel virus.

However, Babalwa Mentjies kept the audience in high spirits with her singing—more than a few participants were seen dancing as they enjoyed her vocals.

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