In a powerful speech at the International AIDS Conference, Charlize Theron has said that discrimination is the primary reason HIV/Aids has not been beaten.
The South-African-born Hollywood superstar used her address at the opening of the Durban event to question why the epidemic has still not been eradicated when we have all the tools needed to do so.
“It is time that we acknowledge that something is terribly wrong. The time has come to face the truth about the unjust world we live in,” she said.
“The real reason we haven’t beaten this epidemic boils down to one simple fact: We value some lives more than others,” Theron insisted to loud applause from the audience.
“We value men more than women. Straight love more than gay love. White skin more than black skin. The rich more than the poor. And adults more than adolescents. I know this because Aids does not discriminate on its own.
“It has no biological preference for black bodies or white bodies, for women’s bodies, for gay bodies, for youth or the poor. It doesn’t single out the vulnerable or the oppressed or the abused.
“We single out the vulnerable, the oppressed, the abused. We ignore them, we let them suffer… and then let them die,” said Theron.
She added: “HIV is not just transmitted by sex. It is transmitted by sexism, racism, poverty and homophobia.”
The actress called on the youth to become the generation that will not only end HIV/Aids but also the culture that condones inequality.
“If we’re going to end Aids, we have to cure the disease within our own hearts and within our own minds first. And I believe that young people are the ones that can do it.”
Returning to Durban for the second time, the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) sees more than 18,000 global leaders, scientists, advocates, and frontline health workers meeting to address the global Aids epidemic.