South Africa at AIDS 2018
Team South Africa, coordinated by SANAC, made a strong impression during the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) held in Amsterdam from 23 to 27 July under the theme ‘Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges’. Apart from boasting one of the most prominent exhibition stands, the country also led a special session held in honour of the late Prudence Mabele.
Since the conference coincided with the BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg, SANAC Chairperson, Deputy President David
Mabuza had to remain in the country – he then delegated Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to lead Team SA. More than 500 delegates consisting of civil society, researchers, scientists, government officials and private sector representatives attended the conference.
South Africa’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane welcomed the delegation to Amsterdam and urged everyone
to be positive ambassadors and make SA proud. “As a South frican, I am proud to welcome such a big delegation to this
significant gathering. I urge you all to be ambassadorial in conduct and fly the South African flag high,” said Ambassador
South Africa’s exhibition stand
Dubbed Vilakazi Street, the exhibition stand honoured the contribution by Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu against
HIV and TB. Vilakazi Street was Nelson Mandela’s residence in Soweto and the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize
laureates lived – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
The stand featured South Africa’s progress in response to HIV and TB, as well as the country’s plans to address challenges facing key and vulnerable populations such as sex workers, young women & girls and the LGBTI community.
SANAC-led Satellite Sessions aligned with AIDS 2018 Prominent Themes
SANAC led three satellite sessions focusing on issues many other countries are grappling with in response to HIV, TB and
STIs. One session focused on HIV prevention for young women and girls; the other focused on HIV and Key Populations in the
African continent and the last session focused on Stigma.
These satellite sessions aligned perfectly with the “buzz words” at AIDS 2018. The issue of prevention, youth-focused
interventions, reaching key and vulnerable populations and, combating stigma and discrimination, were some of the
themes emerging prominently from the conference highlights. These themes also align with South Africa’s current National
Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs: 2017-2022.
Talking about ‘take home’ messages from some of the satellite sessions, especially the ones focused on key populations, Kerry
Mangold from SANAC said, “There is a lot of research, a lot of programme learnings, a lot of progressive policy but more
is required to bring in boys; to strengthen coordination and management; to bring in all government departments and to
hold people accountable, especially on issues of gender-based violence and economic empowerment programmes.”