The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) has announced a series of events around the country to commemorate World Aids Day on Monday.

“Join us on this day. Don’t wait to be asked. Talk to your family, workplace, school or organisation about what you are going to do. Spread the word to act now,” said SANAC in a statement.

The organisation has called for the nation to “stop everything” at 12pm on Monday afternoon. This will coincide with church bells ringing for a minute across South Africa.

This will be followed by a television broadcast of a national address by figures such as the new Minister of Health Marbara Hogan and the Executive Director of UNAIDS Dr. Peter Piot.

A number of radio stations with 3,2 million combined listeners will also observe the one minute of silence. Some radio disc jockeys will test for HIV live on air, and others will discuss HIV and TB.

These form part of a series of events, all around midday on December 1, described by the organisation as “unprecedented”:

  • Church bells ringing at all Anglican and other churches in Cape Town and other centres, and a call for special services,

  • A special sermon at all mosques and a special message to all Muslim schools and businesses,
  • A fifteen minute break at all Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) hearings nationwide,
  • A minute’s silence in all banks through the Banking Association of South Africa
  • 15-30 minute discussions at most workplaces,
  • Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) president Sidumo Dhlamini publicly testing for HIV at Anglocoal in Witbank.

Nationwide messages will include:

  • A circular from Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to all member organisations calling on them to take part in World AIDS Day,

  • An endorsement from Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi,
  • A message from former president Nelson Mandela through his organization 46664,
  • Phone service MXit will send a message to its five million mainly teenage users, and
  • COSATU will distribute two million pamphlets calling on members to go for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and TB and advising on how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Others participating in World AIDS Day events include:

  • South Africa’s cricketers, the Proteas, wearing a red ribbon in the test match with Bangladesh,

  • A visit from the United Kingdom development Minister, Ivan Lewis,

  • A statement from United Nations High Commissioner, Judge Navi Pillay,

  • A week-long community mobilization by SANAC in three districts in KwaZulu-Natal and

  • The Department of Health’s media arm Khomanani putting out media to reach 29 million people, supported by SANAC and the National Economic Development and Labour Advisory Council (Nedlac).

The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organisations, activists and charities around the world.

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