With just four days to go until the International AIDS Conference kicks off in Durban, South Africa is gearing up for a meeting that will mark almost two decades of progress in HIV treatment and the legacy of a child who became the face of one of the world’s most historic battles for human rights.
“Hi, my name is Nkosi Johnson. I live in Melville, Johannesburg, South Africa. I am 11 years old, and I have full-blown AIDS. I was born HIV-positive.”
This is how South Africa’s youngest HIV activist began his plea for treatment at the opening of the 2000 International Aids Conference in Durban. Still holding firm in his refusal to provide life-saving antiretrovirals to hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive South Africans, then president Thabo Mbeki walked out during Johnson’s address.
Today, the South African Deputy President is slated to visit the Johannesburg home for women and children affected by HIV, named in Johnson’s honour.
The visit marks the start of a national countdown to the conference, which returns to Durban this year. South Africans are being encouraged to wear red, black and white to commemorate the run-up to the event.
The Bhekisisa Centre for Journalism will be covering the event with multimedia stories looking at HIV in countries like South Africa and Malawi. Tune in on Facebook or via our website for daily conference wraps from Bhekisisa Director Mia Malan, who is set to moderate a high-level panel on HIV financing in South Africa on 19 July.
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