We thank Hlengiwe Buthelezi for this report on an action organized by KwaZulu Natal LGBT Recreation in Durban for World AIDS Day, held on Saturday 3 December:
December being declared as an HIV/AIDS month and 1st December as an World AIDS Day,KwaZulu Natal Recreation wanted to reach out to the community and do an HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign event, including testing, as part of our education and outreach program. The response was overwhelming!
This time around we purposely chose a tavern as a venue simply because we wanted to send a message that alcohol can lead to misconduct and neglegance, unprotected sex and multi-partnerships, all of which are risk factors for HIV/AIDS infection.
A mobile HIV testing and counseling unit made up of a 4-person clinic crew came from the Espanini Help Centre were on hand to perform pre-counseling, testing and post counseling.
The community came out in numbers and about 80 people were tested on the day.
To motivate the crowd AIDS activists Zandile Gumede, age 35, and Musa Dlamini, age 33, came with their support group and spoke to the community to share with them what it's like to live with the virus and how to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Zandile Gumede has been living with HIV for the past 17 years and is still going strong. A married woman and a mother of 2 who lost her husband to HIV/AIDS-related diseases, Musa Dlamini is an unmarried father of 1 who has been living with HIV for 12 years. Lulama Dube, the local social worker from the Department of Health, brought her crew of volunteers, all young and energetic, who were very helpful in setting up. KwaZulu Natal LGBT Recreation requested the presence of Lulama because she is a veteran who lives in the area and knows just about everyone. Her remarkable work is well known by the locals. She was very influencial in this community and works wit many different LGBTI groups.
The day started very well, although people had trouble arriving on time due to heavy rain. Immediately after the rain had stopped we started with a programme of the day.