The first ever convention for people living with HIV/AIDS will take place in Midrand on Friday, initiated by the outstanding HIV activist Pholokgolo Ramothwala, who has been living with HIV for the past 11 years.
He says: “Positive Convention is a conference about living with HIV/AIDS for people living with HIV or AIDS. Its theme is based on the premise: ‘No one knows and understands the challenges of living with HIV or AIDS than those who are living with the virus’.
“It will address social and workplace issues faced by people living with HIV/AIDS, that is, stigma, discrimination, alcohol abuse, treatment adherence, reproductive rights and legal issues amongst others. The topic ‘Young professionals living with HIV/AIDS’ will be given a special focus.”
Ramothwala is expecting about 300 people to attend the conference, which will also focus on the role that people with HIV can play in prevention efforts and as role models in promoting healthy lifestyles and self confidence.
High profile speakers like the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, SANAC CEO Dr Nono Simelela, Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron, and Dr Mary Fanning, the US Health Attaché, will speak at the meeting.
Soul City, the Positive Women’s Network, PEPFAR agencies, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID and Johns Hopkins Health and Education South Africa are supporting this initiative.
More than five million South Africans are HIV positive, according to the 2008 HSRC national survey.
When the Soul City Institute dreamed up “Kwanda” – a TV reality show where five teams compete to make their communities look better, feel better and work better – they ran into resistance and scepticism.
But they didn’t give up and Kwanda comes to our screens next week.
It’s a revolutionary concept: a TV reality show that’s also a social development project to transform communities.
The producer has worked on programmes like Survivor and Fear Factor and the quality reflects this.
The audience at the launch yesterday were laughing and engaging with contestants in the first episode.
The communities — Pefferville near East London; Mthwalume near Port Shepstone; Tjakastad near Barberton; Lephephane near Tzaneen; and Kwakwatsi near Sasolburg — elected volunteers, who each committed 120 days to improving the places in which they live.
Viewers will choose which team makes the biggest difference to their community and that team will win a prize.
Soul City senior executive Dr Sue Goldstein said: “Although communities are competing for the grand prize, none of them will be losers.”
A new fashion label, Kwanda Brand Klothing, will be launched during the series to boost job creation. Designers worked with sewing groups to create a hip street wear collection.
Cheryl Carolus, who is on the Soul City board, commended the creators of Kwanda for persevering despite initial scepticism.
“I’m glad they believed the time was right, and it was necessary, for South Africans to reclaim their own lives,” she said.
International director, writer and puppeteer, Nyanga Tshabalala, is Kwanda’s host.
“I have learnt I can better my community without having a cent,” he said.
*The first episode will be flighted next Wednesday, 2 September, on SABC 1 at 21h00