SADC Launches Forum That Plans To Address HIV/AIDS Issues Among Artists
The Southern African Development Community recently launched a forum that plans to address HIV/AIDS issues affecting artists in member nations, the Herald/AllAfrica.com reports. According to the Herald/AllAfrica.com, the SADC Artists Against HIV and AIDS was established following a declaration made by artists from Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe during a workshop that was held before the inaugural SADC Artists AIDS Festival, which took place during the last week of November 2007.
The forum, which will be divided into regional and national chapters, will conduct research on HIV/AIDS and provide data on artists living with the disease. The forum also aims to network with other HIV/AIDS organizations and individual regional member states, as well as to provide support and services to artists living with the disease. In addition, the forum will encourage artists to seek voluntary HIV testing and counseling and will provide information and support services. The forum plans to approach SADC national governments, the international community and individual donors for funding, the Herald/AllAfrica.com reports.
Stephen Chifunyise, a forum contact person, said, "Artists have not been able to get help from existing organizations that deal with HIV and AIDS. As a result, many artists have died [from AIDS-related complications] in silence and isolation with no support from fellow artists, arts organizations, and HIV and AIDS organizations." Chifunyise added that national committees in countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe already have started working on the program. According to the Herald/AllAfrica.com, national committees will pass information to the regional interim committee, which currently is headed by Virginia Phiri of Zimbabwe (Guchu, Herald/AllAfrica.com, 1/9).