News24, 01 December 2002, 'Aids stigma must stop'

Kimberley - Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang lit a huge candle at the Absa Stadium in Kimberley, Northern Cape, to commemorate World Aids Day on Sunday.

The minister said discrimination and stigmatisation continued to stand as a barrier in the fight against HIV/Aids.

"Stigma harms, it silences communities and individuals... and increases their vulnerability," she told the packed Absa Stadium.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the HIV/Aids stigma isolated people living with the disease and deprived them of care and support.

She called on South Africans to break down the barrier, saying the country had a responsibility to create an environment that would enable people living with the HIV/Aids to be open about their status.

"And when they do so, we should treat those living with the disease with compassion," she said.

The candle was an expression of support and hope those living with HIV/Aids. Musicians like Mdu Masilela, Sylvia Mdunyelwa and Jabu Khanyile entertained the crowd at the stadium.

During performances, Tshabalala-Msimang, together with the other senior government officials, joined the singers on stage to dance.

She received food parcels from Pick 'n Pay which were collected as part of the "I care enough to help, do you?", campaign.

South Africa's theme for the 2002 World Aids Day was: "I care enough to help, do you?" The theme was inspired by the global theme "live, let live".

Two of the government's "Khomanani campaigns" - the circles of support campaign and the youth campaign - have formed a major part of the national programme.

The youth campaign directly targets children by promoting safer sex and encouraging them to delay sex by at least a few years.

The circles of support campaign was formed to improve care and support, reduce stigmatisation and increase community support for orphans and vulnerable children affected by the pandemic.