On this World AIDs Day we honor these celebrity ambassadors who have played a vital role in fighting the stigma surrounding AIDs and educating more people about the disease.
An estimated 12.6% of the South African population are living HIV-positive, with those statistics it is important to bring awareness in communities all over the country, and what better way to do that than to have celebrities behind those infected and those who are still negative. Some of our favourite celebrities have used their platforms to play their part in becoming a voice by becoming HIV ambassadors.
Lesego Motsepe who publicly disclosed her HIV status on Kaya FM in 2011 on World Aids Day had been an HIV and Aids ambassador. Lesego later passed on and although she had died from natural causes her decision - prior her passing - to discontinue her anti-retroviral medication had angered HIV activists, many fans felt that had she continued taking her ARV’s she would have lived longer.
12-year-old Nkosi Johnson who was born with HIV had been referred to by Nelson Mandela as an “icon of the struggle life”, had become an activist in 1997 after a primary school in Melville, Johannesburg had refused to accept him because his HIV-positive status. Nkosi later became a keynote speaker at various Aids conferences, spreading awareness and advocating change against discrimination.
The late Koyo Bala 3Sum singer who passed away early 2016 after battling with cancer had publicly disclosed his status in 2011 and had used his platform to help “instill a sense of hope” to those struggling to come to terms with their status.
Speaking to Drum magazine Koyo spoke on living with HIV saying: “I am HIV-positive, and as a celebrity and someone who is openly gay, it is important to come out. I want to use my bubbly personality to help those struggling to come to terms with their status and instill a sense of hope”
Loyiso Bala is one of the celebrities that had become a voice for people living with HIV after being appointed as UNAids ambassador in 2013, his position had entailed that he uses his platform to speak out against the stigma and discrimination against HIV-infected people.
Radio DJ Criselda Kananda is living HIV positive, and although she had been diagnosed when she was seven months pregnant, Criselda is a great testimony that confronts the stigma that HIV can define a person. Criselda is on the board of the South African national AIDS council and still lives happily today.
Vusi Nova & Nokuthula Ledwaba
Vusi Nova & Nokuthula Ledwaba both revealed that they had lost their mothers from the disease and have spoken out ever since, advocating ARV’s dosage and the importance of unashamedly coming out.
Those that become a voice to fight against HIV & AIDS should be given a platform, the bigger the platform, the more it will spread abroad and could even possibly save a life. We here at ZAlebs proudly stand behind those that have used their platforms to spread the word, not just on World Aids day but every day.
Main Image Credit: Facebook/Isidingo