We just finished our POSITIVE series — stories of women and girls under the age of 24 living with HIV in South Africa. We called our Series POSITIVE not only because it centers on the stories of HIV-positive women and girls, but also because it was important to us to highlight stories of people who do not see such a diagnosis as an ending.
By talking to and learning from women who identify as HIVictors and help young people control their own sex education, it’s clear that there are people dedicated to positive solutions regarding HIV rates for young women.
If you were moved by our reporting, here are five ways that you can be part of the solution to this problem:
1. Learn the basics with a graphic novel, keep up with the latest research while you’re scanning your feeds, or raise money while hanging with your friends. Our pop culture hasn’t always had the best track record of depicting HIV/AIDS in nuanced, empathetic ways, but now you can do things like read this YA graphic novel on HIV transmission and prevention or follow orgs that produce cutting-edge research, like The HIV Medical Association or Columbia University’s HIV research arm, on Twitter. If you’d prefer to get your activism on with your favorite people, check out MTVStayingAlive.org for info on events and challenges you can attend together.
2. Support expansion of prevention methods. We told you about a medical trial that gives young women in South Africa more treatment options. You can donate to the clinic running that trial here, or learn more about the WITS Reproductive Health Institute that helps fund that trial and others like it, here.
3. Surround yourself with art that gives South African women a voice. We interviewed Lady Skollie, a South African visual artist who makes art spotlighting the value of female sexual expression and the threat of gender-based violence. You can look at, share images of, and ask about buying pieces from her her London gallery here, or learn more about her newest exhibition here. Also, Lady Skollie’s work is hugely influenced by her equally fierce and politically active sister Kim Windvogel, who runs this organization dedicated to educating young people about sex, gender, and reproductive rights.
If music is more your thing, check out the album Amazulu by South African singer Amanda Black, which tackles themes of empowerment and self-acceptance wrapped in smooth R&B and energetic hip-hop.
4. Volunteer in your neck of the woods or abroad. VolunteerMatch has a list of HIV/AIDS organizations in the United States that need volunteers, or you could check out this list of HIV/AIDS NGOs in South Africa that help train educators and get medicine and support to people who need it.
5. Support sex ed that kids will actually listen to. We talked to some youth radio reporters with the Children’s Radio Foundation in this story on Dr. Eve’s efforts to use the radio to get solid sex ed to young people in South Africa. You can donate to the CRF here.