UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox is in South Africa to highlight the progress and challenges in the AIDS response. During her site visits, she paid tribute to Former President Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela is one of the most significant historical, political and social figures in terms of transformative change that the planet has ever seen. As such his passing leaves a tremendous void,” said Annie. "Before leaving public office he stated " It’s in your hands", challenging us all to engage with the urgent issues of human rights and social justice. If we want to enjoy and sustain the legacy he has given South Africa and the world, then we need to be proactive as opposed to indifferent".
Lennox learned about the benefits of early HIV treatment in preventing paediatric AIDS during a visit to the Children’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Unit (KID CRU) at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. She met with patients and their families and watched a performance by a community group singing a eulogy dedicated to President Mandela.
At the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in the Masiphumelele community, Lennox witnessed how a safe environment tailored to the needs of young people can change lives. The centre provides youth-friendly health services as well as education and entertainment. Lennox spoke with young mothers about their challenges and dreams and listened to a rousing recording by a group of teenagers.
The field visits were particularly significant and symbolic to Lennox because almost exactly ten years ago she resolved to bring attention to the HIV epidemic after her first very moving encounter with President Mandela.
In her role as UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador, Lennox is attending the 17th International conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) and speaking at several high level events.