Promoting HIV testing among young people in South Africa

20 July 2015

On Nelson Mandela International Day, 18 July, UNAIDS brought together a small group of artists for a joint visit to South Africa to raise awareness about HIV among young people.

The grandsons of Nelson Mandela, Ndaba and Kweku Mandela, joined the group, which included North American actress and singer Zendaya and Norwegian musical duo Nico & Vinz.

The group met with young people living with HIV to learn about the challenges they face on a daily basis to access HIV and other health-related services. They also visited several HIV programmes and witnessed how a community-led health programme is providing HIV services in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, near the birthplace of former President Mandela.

HIV is the number one contributor to adolescent mortality in Africa. Discrimination, poverty, inequalities and harsh laws often prevent adolescents from seeking and receiving HIV testing, health care and support. Too many adolescents do not get tested for HIV or receive counselling, especially adolescents at a higher risk of HIV infection and the most marginalized adolescents—adolescent girls, adolescent males who have sex with males, adolescents who inject drugs and sexually exploited adolescents.

The visit gave the group an insight of the importance of removing barriers to access HIV testing and the participants had the opportunity to engage with the ProTESTHIV initiative, which promotes HIV testing.


“Like my grandfather used to say, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” We are the generation that will end the AIDS epidemic.”

Ndaba Mandela

“On this trip, I have seen first-hand the power that the youth have to take charge of their lives, get tested and make the right choices.”

Nico, musician

“Getting tested for HIV is the first step to a healthier life, whether it’s a positive or negative result.”

Vinz, musician

“Someone said to us “It’s all about loving yourself.” I hope to use my voice to get that message out.”

Zendaya, actress and singer

“I always say that the younger generations are not the leaders of the future. They are the leaders of today. They will be the ones to end the AIDS epidemic.”

Sheila Tlou, UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa