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International News

Mandela, Clinton Join Forces to Fight AIDS Among South Africa's Youth

September 30, 2002

Former presidents Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton last week made their way through mud splattered, tin shack-lined roads in the township of Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, to spread the message of AIDS prevention to South Africa's youth. A frail Mandela leaned on Clinton as they greeted a roaring crowd. The former leaders listened as a group of young South Africans talked about their efforts to boost awareness of the disease that has killed so many of their friends.

Clinton told a gathering of youths at a center of LoveLife, the country's HIV prevention program for young people, that since leaving office last year, the dual issues of AIDS prevention and youth community action have become his top priorities, and both are critical to Africa's future. "The HIV problem is to me the most heartbreaking prison because no one has to die of it," Clinton said.

Mandela commended those corporations in South Africa who are providing antiretroviral drugs to their workers. But making drugs available to the public at large "has to be our goal," Mandela said, referring to South Africa's failure to provide access to AIDS drugs through the public health system. In the post-apartheid era, AIDS is the biggest threat to South Africa, he said.

Mandela told the youths they had to work against the stigma associated with AIDS and speak openly about responsible sexual behavior with each other, and with their parents. "You have to be responsible, you have to protect yourselves," he said. He then pulled on one of the black t-shirts worn by the youth who volunteer for the LoveLife program, which has now formed a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the US-based Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. He turned around to display the slogan emblazoned on his back: "Talk About It."

Back to other CDC news for September 30, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
09.28.02; Dina Kraft

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV Prevention in South Africa