AHF South Africa hosted its first ever Speak Out event at the Durban Creative Arts College, on Friday, October 16. Speak Out events were pioneered in the United States as a way to get people infected and affected by HIV to break the silence around the disease and fight stigma within their communities.
South Africa’s event participants were students of the performing arts who created original songs, poetry, physical theatre pieces and hip-hop performances expressing their experiences of sex, love and HIV in the country with the highest number of HIV+ people in the world, 6.4 million.
HIV disproportionately affects young women in South Africa, with girls between the ages of 16-24 being three times more likely to contract the virus than young men of the same age.
The event built on themes developed during the International Day of the Girl Child and performers were asked to imagine having a conversation with their child-selves around issues of infection, prevention and treatment.
The event featured 12 performances and drew over 150 spectators who participated enthusiastically, ensuring performers knew if their work was on topic and engaging by cheering and dancing.
The winning performances addressed intersectional issues of HIV, gender-based violence and patriarchal oppression of women. The event was such a resounding success that AHF has been invited to host it again in 2016.