FUNKY CHOMA POP-UP STORE ENGAGES YOUTH ON HIV RISKS
Choma Magazine has rolled out an interactive art installation to raise awareness about HIV among youth in the lead up to World Aids Day on Monday, 01 December 2014. The pop-up exhibition, on the busy upper level of Southgate Mall in Johannesburg, incorporates a visually inviting presentation of important statistics about HIV with an opportunity for visitors to actively engage with the information.
Thulani Machere, HIVSA mobile health community and stakeholder liaison said, “We want to empower young women to protect themselves, we are not preaching at them, but inviting them to become part of a conversation about HIV where they can engage with the information. This installation is about presenting information about HIV in a funky way and asking young people to interact with it.”
The South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey, published by Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) earlier this year, revealed that 79% of people do not think they are at risk of HIV. This statistic is visually displayed with twenty unclothed mannequins hanging in the shop window – 16 are a blank white colour and just four pink mannequins represent people who know they are at risk of HIV.
“These statistics are worrying,” said Machere. “We still have a long way to go if only 21% of people between the age of 15 and 49 years think they are at risk. Everybody is at risk and we have to be part of the solution to protect ourselves and reduce the spread of HIV.”
One part of the pop-up store informs viewers that, “only 36% of people use a condom every time they have sex.” Pink and blue condoms in shape of the words, “BE SAFE” are stuck across a large wall. Members of the public are invited to actively increase the percentage by taking a condom off the wall for themselves. “The more condoms that are taken off this wall, the better!” said Machere.
According to the HSRC survey, 30% of people do not know the facts about HIV transmission. Visitors are invited to join the conversation by completing the sentence: “I keep safe by ____.” Using condoms, having one partner, being faithful and getting tested are some of the ideas already written onto the large chalkboard; actively contributing to the discussion that aims to inspire real and positive change.
Agrecia Nhlangwana, 21, was one of many visitors at the pop-up store on its opening day. “People in my community are so secretive and they don’t want to talk about HIV. This is such a fun way to create awareness about HIV and help people to love themselves enough to use protection,” she said. She tied a colourful ribbon onto a metal structure at the store as a pledge to keep herself and others safe from HIV. HIVSA hope to see many more ribbon pledges made in the next week, transforming the bare metal structure into a flash of colour.
“We want young people to personalise these statistics for themselves and empower them to shape attitudes that lead to a healthy lifestyle,” said Machere. The HIVSA Adolescent and Young Women project in support of HIV awareness and World Aids Day, forms part of the CHOMA Inspiring Positive Change campaign, which encourages young women to express themselves and tell the world what inspires them to achieve their dreams and remain HIV free.
CHOMA is HIVSA's interactive mobi magazine that ensures that everything from love and relationships to inspiration, health, fashion and beauty gets readers coming back on a regular basis. CHOMA’s main goal however, is to engage with young women through Facebook, WhatsApp, Mobi, and Twitter in a way that inspires and empowers them to be the next HIV free generation. In just over a year CHOMA has built up an audience of over 680 000 subscribers.
HIVSA intends to spread their messages to younger girls too. “Engaging with girls who are not sexually active is critical if we are to be part of ending the spread of HIV in this generation, we do this through inspiring young girls to delay their sexual debut until they are informed and know how to protect themselves.” This is according to 17year-old Courtney Arendse, who took a badge off an inspiration wall at the store said, “I didn’t know some of these facts. It’s so important to protect yourself.” CHOMA is also running a competition as part of their wider Inspiring Positive Change campaign. People who ‘like’ the CHOMA Facebook page and post a picture of themselves with a speech bubble saying what inspires them, could stand a chance to win one of five R10 000 bursary prizes.
The CHOMA exhibition, curated by Zama Phakathi in store space donated by Southgate Mall, will be open to the public during mall hours from 25 November to 01 December 2014 at a shop between Jet and Smooch. World Aids Day is held on 01 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and Aids, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
For more information about HIVSA contact 011 494 1900 or visit www.hivsa.com. Alternatively, connect with CHOMA Magazine at choma.mobi or choma.co.za, on Facebook, using WhatsApp on 071 172 3657, and @chomamag on Twitter.
* The Human Science Research Council released the South African National HIV Prevalence, Incident and Behaviours Survey, 2014.
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