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The SA Voices HIV Museum exhibition was launched on 11 July 2016 as part of the official seven-day countdown to AIDS2016. The museum launch event was presided over by the MEC for Health, the honorable Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, and the then eThekwini Mayor, Dr James Nxumalo. eThekwini Living Legend and internationally acclaimed scientist Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim delivered the first Nkosi Johnson Memorial Lecture at the event, focusing on HIV in youth and young women. This lecture set the tone for many such lectures, dialogues, seminars, book launches and community workshops which have been hosted by SA Voices at KwaMuhle Museum both during AIDS2016 and in the months since the International AIDS Conference. This active programme of events has swelled visitors to KwaMuhle Museum, with visitor statistics sitting at an all-time high of 10 600 visits in just three months to SA Voices and the KwaMuhle Museum complex.

“South African Voices –Towards a Museum of HIV Memory and Learning” is a large-scale public health exhibition that documents a critical and defining chapter in our collective journey to overcome HIV in South Africa. As our journey with HIV is far from over, South African Voices is an ever-evolving collection of stories, histories, community and public sector responses that explore the lived human experience of the South African HIV pandemic. As such, SA Voices blends a historical and contemporary narrative on South Africa’s HIV history, exploring key educational objectives that talk to the need for new learning and practice if we are to achieve an AIDS-free generation by 2030. The take-home message to young learners and youth is “What do we need to do differently to ensure that in the next decade 90% of all people living with HIV will know their status and be accessing treatment.”

Dr Roshini Bob (on right, from eThekwini Municipality) and Debbie Heustice (on left, Project Manager, SA Voices)

SA Voices has in three short months become a space where young South Africans, community activists and the public can mingle, discuss, learn and ask questions that might seem difficult in other settings. It’s a warm, safe space to learn and raise voices about HIV, TB and the complex social drivers of the pandemic.

Visiting school and community groups are guided around the museum content by knowledgeable health and well-being peer educators. Working together with the dedicated Education Officers at KwaMuhle, the South African Voices Youth (SAVY) team are on hand to facilitate meaningful engagement with the wide variety of content, from science to safer sexual behaviours, from memorial quilts to medical and advocacy milestones. Several of the youth team who volunteered in the SAV space during AIDS2016 continue to return to the SAV exhibition to refresh their knowledge about HIV. Youth peer educators have found this a very useful way to ensure they are continuing their HIV education and passing on the most current information to communities.

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