Charlize Theron, speaking on behalf of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, gave an impassioned speech at the opening of the International AIDS Conference in South Africa this week.

“I think it’s time we face the truth about the unjust world we live in,” she said in her speech. "The truth is, we have every tool we need to prevent the spread of HIV. Every tool we need. Condoms. PrEP. PEP. ART. Awareness. Education.

“And yet, 2.1 million people, 150,000 of them children, were infected with HIV last year. In South Africa alone, 180,000 people died of AIDS last year. 2.1 million children and counting have been orphaned by this disease.

“I could go on for an hour with the horrifying statistics we all know so well. But instead, let’s ask ourselves…Why haven’t we beaten this epidemic?

“The real reason we haven’t beaten the 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. Adults more than adolescents.

“I know this because AIDS does not discriminate on its own. It has no biological preference for black bodies, for women’s bodies, for gay bodies, for youth or for the poor. It doesn’t single out the vulnerable, the oppressed, or the abused.

“WE single out the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the abused. WE ignore them. WE let them suffer. And then, WE leave them to die.

“If we are going to end AIDS, we must cure the disease in our hearts and minds first.”

AIDS 2016 continues until July 22.

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