Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the youth of South Africa to take the lead in preventing new HIV infections.
Speaking at the eighth South African Aids conference in Durban today, he said young people had the power of social media and should use it to remind their sexually active friends to always practice safe sex.
“Today’s youth have strong and powerful allies. They are able to appropriate Facebook to promote prevention and advance healthy lifestyle.
"These [social networks] can be used to remind their sexually active friends to always practice safe sex,” Ramaphosa said.
“I encourage all young people to embark on the long walk to prevention. This generation is duty bound to make history, in fact they are makers of history,” he said.
South Africa continues to do well in terms of treating HIV and Aids, but new HIV infections, especially among young people, remained a big challenge.
Last year, there were 270 000 new HIV infections in South Africa.
It was estimated that 2000 of those were young women between the ages of 15 and 24.
This year’s conference focused mostly on HIV preventing with the theme being: “The long walk to prevention, every voice counts.”
Ramaphosa acknowledged the gains made by South Africa in the fight against HIV and Aids but he urged citizens to not be complacent.
“While we acknowledge the gains we have made we remain conscious of the high new HIV infections, particularly among girls and young women.
"What we must all continue to focus on is, clearly, prevention. It is the most critical pillar of all the endeavours we must undertake,” he said.
He also used the platform to speak out against gender-based violence, saying he shared the outrage of millions on the scourge of gender-based violence.
“I spoke about this extensively in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday) and challenged my peers that this task should not be colonised and taken up by a few people.
"This challenge should be taken up by all South Africans, especially the men, who should say: not in my name,” Ramaphosa said.