Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has responded to Hollywood actress Charlize Theron’s speech on the 21st International Aids Conference speech in Durban where she said that HIV and Aids persists in South Africa as a result of the undying rate of discrimination in the country.
The Oscar-winning actress, Theron said SA is unable to keep down the rising spread of HIV and Aids because of discrimination. Against black, gay, female and oppressed people.
The actress further argued that the continuous spread of the disease was because those infected have been largely abandoned by both their loved ones and the government.
“The real reason we haven’t beaten this epidemic boils down to one simple fact. We value some lives more than others. We value men more than women … straight love more than gay love … white skin more than black skin … the rich more than the poor … and adults more than adolescents,” said Theron, to the audience’s reverberating applause.
“I know this because Aids doesn’t discriminate on its own. It has no biological preference for black bodies, for women bodies, for gay bodies, for youth or the poor. It doesn’t single out the vulnerable, the oppressed or the abused. We single out the vulnerable, the oppressed and the abused,” she added.
“We ignore them; we let them suffer; and then we let them die.
However, Theron’s speech which it seems was intended to persuade citizens to eschew all forms of discrimination, raised lots of controversies especially as Western Cape’s leader, Zille questioned the relationship between discrimination and the spread of HIV.
Zille took to Twitter to write: “Dear Charlize, answer to your question: we failed to beat AIDS because we failed to translate scientific knowledge into behaviour change”
When one of her followers asked: How does “racism transmit HIV”? Zille said: “good question. I think, inversely, by implying that certain categories of people are incapable of agency and choice.”
Dear Charlize, Answer to your question: we failed to beat AIDS because we failed to translate scientific knowledge into behaviour change.
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) July 19, 2016
Zille’s Twitter also got a counter reaction as an Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt reacted to Zille’s post by writing: “@helenzille She also implies white racism caused HIV. Let her stay in Hollywood, a cog in the antiwhite propaganda machine!”
South Africa is noted to have one of the biggest and most high-profile HIV epidemic in the world, with an estimated 6.3 million people living with HIV in 2013.
The Spread Of HIV in SA
There has also been up to 330 000 new infections recorded in the same year as 200,000 South Africans died from Aids-related illnesses.” It also has the largest anti-retroviral treatment programme globally and these efforts have been largely financed from its own domestic resources.
The country now invests more than $1 billion annually to run its HIV and Aids programmes and in his speech, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa appreciated individuals and organisations in the country and across the world who persistently fought for the right to treatment and never gave up.
He said the success we have achieved in the treatment of people living with HIV in this country in particular is largely due to the work done by these individuals and organisations working with government.