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Archived 2010 Articles about  Pieter-Dirk Uys

Less than 80 days to warn world of SA's sky-high HIV infection rate, warns Uys

– Fadela Slamdien, West Cape News, 19 March 2010

CAPE TOWN  — Pieter-Dirk Uys, South Africa's leading satirist who has been involved in a successful sex education programme in schools, has called on government to launch an urgent campaign to warn World Cup tourists of the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

"There are less than 80 days to go, so time is not on our side," said Uys. "Soccer, alcohol and sex often go together and they need to "be reminded of the need to protect themselves".

Uys, also known for his alter ego character, Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, is a vocal AIDS activist, and has travelled at his own expense to many schools in South Africa, educating students on the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

"Those responsible for this event (the World Cup) should lead the way" and find ways of educating tourists to the dangers, he said.

"We will have many visitors who have paid a lot of money to come here to have fun. How will they be alerted to the dangers of HIV and Aids? Our infection rate tops the world. School children will be on holiday. A 13-year-old can easily look 17."

Government had committed itself to halving HIV infections by the end of 2010 "... but this will be too late for the World Cup in June and July," Uys said. It was essential that "a simple, but ideally humorous" way of getting the message across should be used.

World Cup tourists arriving at South African airports should be greeted with attention grabbing "punchy and funny, but informative, posters with messages like: "If its not On, its not In" and "Put your love in a plastic bag".

Uys suggested that tourists should also be provided with a card highlighting South Africa's sky-high HIV and AIDS rates. "Hand every visitor a welcoming card at immigration, reminding them that South Africa has the HI-virus to contend with and that they are now also at risk. So be careful. And understand that a shower after unprotected sex will not cure anything," he said.

But the national Department of Health and the AIDS Foundation South Africa do not believe Uys's recommendations are necessary. Health Department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the government already had an "ongoing campaign against HIV AIDS.  People who are coming to South Africa for the World cup are not necessarily coming for sex," he said. "They are coming to watch the football and to appreciate the beauty of the country.

"The work we (government) are doing around HIV and AIDS is ongoing, it goes beyond the World Cup. We are still faced with the responsibility of encouraging South Africans to prevent themselves from getting HIV and AIDS," said Hadebe.

Aids Foundation South Africa CEO Debbie Mathew said government would be launching its HIV counselling and testing campaign (HCT) on April 15. "This is the most massive campaign that the country has done in terms of AIDS," said Mathew.

She said testing would take place at shopping centres, pharmacies and a number of other venues, adding that the target was to have up to 15 million people tested by June next year. This campaign will be running parallel with the World Cup and will also continue "beyond" the event, she said. "This government plan will also include counselling, which involves educating and informing people about the risks of AIDS."

Condoms will also be handed out during the World Cup as part of the government's efforts to provide to provide protection to both locals and tourists. "This will be made available at hotels, at clubs, and other venues, not just at health venues," said Mathew, adding that every person who is tested will be given 100 free condoms. 

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