EDUCATION is the main focus of World Aids Day activities in Johannesburg, both in the run-up and on the day itself.

An annual international event, World Aids Day is observed on 1 December to highlight the fight against the pandemic, support those affected by and infected with HIV, and commemorate those who have died.

In playing its part, the City of Joburg has a number of activities planned to educate the public and encourage people to know their status, and to support those who are HIV-positive.

First up, there will be mobile testing centres open from 6am to 7am at the busy Park Station. Individuals are encouraged to be tested during the hour. From there, there will be a march over Nelson Mandela Bridge to Newtown Park for the day’s formal programme of speeches and live entertainment.

Executive Mayor Parks Tau, Joburg’s portfolio head of health and social development, Nonceba Molwele, and other guest speakers will be among the dignitaries who will speak on the day.

The guest speaker will be Kgosi Letlape. Letlape is the president of the African Medical Association, a former chairperson of the South African Medical Association and a past president of the World Medical Association (WMA), the global representative body for physicians worldwide. He made history by becoming the first black person to qualify as an ophthalmologist in South Africa during the apartheid years, and was the first black person to be elected as head of the WMA.

Later in the day, Nelson Mandela Bridge and the Metro Centre will be lit up. The lights will be on for the next 30 days.

16 Days

Also on the day, the Speaker of council, Constance Bapela, will have lunch with the elderly people of Region E at the Johannesburg Zoo. There will be an educational talk on HIV/Aids and how to be safe. Entertainment lined up is a screening of a movie to mark 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, a tour of the zoo, musical items and gifts.

There have been a number of regional events in the run-up to World Aids Day on Thursday. They include Kha Ri Ambe Youth Dialogue, Door to Door and Every Child’s Birthday.

Kha Ri Ambe Youth Dialogue began on 15 November and will end on 3 December. Dialogues have been taking place in all City regions. The aim is to get young people to talk about HIV/Aids, how it affects them, what it means to them and suggestions on how to lessen its impact.

They are also able to talk about social grants and human development in their neighbourhoods. For more information about venues and start times, call the City spokesperson, Nkosinathi Nkabinde, on 011 407 6477.

Door to Door is a programme run by IJozi Ihlomile, an organisation made up of out of school youth who are trained to go door to door educating people about sexually transmitted diseases, how to prevent mother to child transmission and the importance of safe sex.

The intensified programme started on 15 November and is expected to continue until 3 December.

Finally, on Saturday 10 December, Every Child’s Birthday will take place at the Innes Free Park in Sandton. The party is for orphaned and vulnerable children in Joburg.

World Aids Day falls during the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, a national call to stop gender and child abuse. Internationally, violence against women is highlighted over the 16 days.