WITH World Aids Day fast approaching hundreds of young men and women attended a discussion at Raymond Mhlaba Hall in Motherwell this week about the Aids pandemic and ways in which to stop the disease from spreading.
Eastern Cape Aids Council official Vuyisa Dayile said their aim was to raise awareness and create hype leading up to World Aids Day on December 1.
Schools in the area and the youth were invited by the Aids Council to the discussion which included trying to get the youth talking about HIV and its underlying sexual dynamics; inspiring young people towards an HIV-free future and preparing them to cope with a high-risk transmission phase; creating awareness of the challenges facing young people in tackling HIV in their communities and to help develop a common understanding of the HIV/Aids pandemic.
Dayile said the council wanted to hear the community’s thoughts, as it is the community which is directly affected by HIV and Aids.
“When we plan our interventions, we will present the points raised here to the national government. We want to be able to say this is what the people of the Eastern Cape think,” he said.
At the discussion many issues were raised with the main focus being on sex and the youth, substance abuse, especially alcohol, with regard to increasing the legal limit to consume alcohol and the banning of alcohol advertisements.
“We have been to Zwide and the Northern Areas already – we have had seven youth dialogues this year around the province,” he said.
One of the biggest issues raised was that of alcohol and the effects it had on the youth’s promiscuity.
“Once alcohol is consumed the chance is greater that people become irresponsible and have unprotected sex.”
One of the guest speakers was former inmate and Next Chapter owner Luvuyo Ngxiki, 31, who grew up in KwaZakhele.
He reiterated the abuse of alcohol led to unprotected sex and that it was a really big problem. “Alcohol is very bad and we need to make people aware of the effects and what can happen when you drink too much.”
Ngxiki was first arrested when he was 13 and at 19 he had taken part in gang rapes and stolen cars and spent seven years in seven different jails.
Next Chapter Business Consultants was founded by Ngxiki in 2009 after he attained his matric in prison.
Next Chapter identifies a need to assist business in crime prevention and also empowers offenders, helps them plan their exits from prison and helps create opportunities for them.
In so doing it helps them with their next chapter in life.
“It all started with alcohol abuse,” he said.
“I used to take girls to taverns and get them drunk. Sometimes up to six of us would then have sex with them.”
Girls who were drunk were easy targets.
“Many people drop out of universities because of alcohol. Alcohol is bad. It is very important to have talks like this with the youth.”
He said there should be some sort of programme at primary school level to teach children about the dangers of alcohol abuse and the possibility of contracting Aids.
Another speaker, popular uMhlobo Wenene FM presenter, Putco Mafani, said education was key.
“We have to keep on educating and talking to each other,” Mafani said.
Dayile said the celebrations on World Aids Day would be at the Wolfson Stadium in New Brighton with Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, as the keynote speaker.