MBETE: stop and thinK about WORLD AIDS Day

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

At midday today Deputy President Baleka Mbete will ask all people in South Africa to stop what they are doing to observe and to act on World Aids day.

The country will come to a standstill for about 15 minutes.

Mbete has asked everybody to think and talk about HIV and how it can be stopped.

Mark Heywood, deputy chairman of the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) said: "People are encouraged to hold discussions in workplaces and schools, in homes and on the streets.

"World Aids Day 2008 will be unprecedented and historic in the global history of Aids and will inspire people in South Africa and across the world.

"Our vision is to use this day to promote actions that will stop HIV and to start a truly national social mobilisation against HIV, Aids and TB."

At noon the church bells of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town will toll to mark the start of a national minute of silence.

The theme for this year's commemoration is "Leadership and Unity to stop HIV, Aids and TB".

Heywood said the emphasis placed on World Aids day today means a lot but is not enough.

He called on everyone to act against this disease, affected or not.

A national event will be held in the Sahara Stadium in Durban, where Health Minister Barbara Hogan, Mbete and UN Aids executive director Peter Piot will address the public. The ceremony will be broadcast live on SABC2 and other SABC and independent radio stations.

Other events around the country include:

l In Cape Town Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba will hold a special service at St George's Cathedral. HIV counsellors will be on hand to provide information and will also offer HIV testing .

l A specially prepared sermon will be delivered in all mosques and a special message will be sent to all Muslim schools, Muslim-owned businesses and Muslim-run e-mail lists in SA.

l In Witbank Cosatu and AngloCoal will hold a large workplace event offering HIV testing. Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini will take a public HIV test.

l In Middelburg the World Aids Day awareness programme, hosted by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority and Bambanani Medical Centre, will be held at the centre.

l Nelson Mandela will release a statement through his organisation 46664, www.46664.org.za , with key messages and actions as a portal through which organisations and individuals can find out what they and their companies can do during the 15-minute "Focus on Aids".