Address delivered by the Deputy President, Mrs Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
at the Candlelight Memorial, Mangaung
Premier of the Free State, Beatrice
MEC for Health, Mr Sakhile Belot,
Fellow South Africans,
The candlelight memorial that we
commemorate today is a day when we look into our souls and remember the people
we knew and who have passed on because of HIV and AIDS. Most of our families have
encountered the sadness, ill health and emptiness that characterise living with
HIV and AIDS.
And all of us need moments and days when we can face up to
the painful emotions and memories because someone who is dear to us is no longer
Candlelight memorial is such a day. By getting together whether
it's here in Mangaung or anywhere else across the country, we are saying to one
another that we realise there's grief amongst us and that it is correct to express
the pain. When we are able to hold hands and to share positive thoughts and words
we can comfort and support one another and as human beings we need to give and
to receive support from the people around us.
HIV and AIDS touch so many
aspects of our lives. On the first level they have to do with our health. For
months and years we may not know we're carrying the virus. But eventually there
comes a time when our health is not so good any longer, when we feel weak and
cannot eat, we cough or we have sores. From there other illnesses associated with
HIV and AIDS weaken our immune system and many of us die prematurely because of
At another level HIV affects our feelings and our psychology. We become
scared. We feel alone. We feel ashamed. We feel let down and confused. We grieve
for the ones we've lost or those we are going to lose.
So HIV and AIDS
impact on our family lives and on our personal and workplace relationships. Friendships
become strained. We start to reassess how we talk to our parents, colleagues,
teachers, managers, priests and even unknown people we meet in a shop or at a
What I'm trying to say to you is that I understand what it means
living with HIV and AIDS. And I'm certain that individually and collectively many
of us understand what it means living with HIV. But we don't share this understanding
enough we close it up into ourselves we shut the family, friends, the whole community
outside and suffer each one individually.
If I could change one thing by
sharing this day with you today, I'd like to see us all being able to talk to
each other more openly about what it means living with HIV and AIDS. This brings
me to the theme for this year's candlelight memorial. It's the theme that we share
with other countries that are also commemorating candlelight memorial with their
"Lighting the path to a brighter future" is an inspiring
theme that we should learn from. Light brings openness, daylight, fresh air, hope.
Together we can share this light so that we can accept our own HIV status and
so we can make sure we prevent new HIV infections. Light also brings comfort to
the families that have lost loved ones.
As government and as individuals
who care we encourage those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS to go beyond
mourning and start believing in the future full of possibilities. There is life
after HIV and no one should give in or willingly loose the battle to the virus.
Let's learn from the losses we've suffered as a nation and realise that
we have the ability to stop people from becoming infected. And future will be
We will be healthier and we'll get much more out of life
whether we're rich or poor.
Today though and every day ahead of us let's
remember that there is no cure for AIDS, despite ongoing research to find a cure.
Prevention of HIV infections is the most urgent priority for us as individuals
and as family members and communities and for the government of South Africa.
We have declared this year as the year for accelerated prevention of new
HIV infections. You, I, all of us must participate in the prevention efforts.
Abstinence and avoiding risky sexual encounters helps to lower the rate of new
Having sex with a condom helps reduce the number of infections.
Having sex only within a faithful relationship decreases the risk of HIV infection.
Talking about HIV and its prevention in families, schools and in communities helps
prevent HIV infection.
Secondly, take that relationship to the next level
of mutual trust and commitment and go for an HIV test with your partner. Knowing
your HIV status will give you the power to lead your life in accordance with the
positive or negative status.
Thirdly, find out where you can access the
medical and social support services that are being strengthened through the ongoing
implementation of the government's comprehensive plan for HIV and AIDS.
a member of our government, I'm glad that our government has introduced a number
of resources for people living with HIV and AIDS including the Comprehensive Care,
Management, Treatment and Support Programme (CCMTSP) which assists affected people
with medical and social resources needed to continue leading a healthy and economically
The Department of Health has enabled 231 clinics to service
patients who require life long antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS.
new patients entering the system each day, I am encouraged that over 120 000 South
Africans are receiving antiretroviral treatment through the public sector. This
treatment extends lives. But more importantly it enables parents to care for children.
It enables teachers to continue to teach learners. And today, we should acknowledge
that it gives hope and lights up a path to a brighter future.
I thank you
Issued by: The Presidency
21 May 2006