It was Red Velvet Cupcakes that brought in clients to our Cato Ridge Roadside Wellness Centre last Thursday 11 Dec. Celebrating World Aids Day and World HIV Awareness Month, the South African RWC exchanged the cupcakes for HIV tests between 2pm and 10pm, encouraging truck drivers, sex workers and truck stop community members to ‘know your status’.

With 6.3 million people living with HIV in South Africa*, the disease is responsible for around 200,000 deaths per year. Some communities are more vulnerable than others; people aged 15-49 have a prevalence rate of 19%, with truck drivers and sex workers experiencing even higher rates. Their mobility fuels the spread of disease across towns, communities and borders.

By encouraging key populations, like truck drivers, sex workers and truck stop community members to ‘know your status’, North Star Alliance is strengthening the World HIV strategy to ‘Get to Zero’. That is, zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination.

Being aware of your HIV Status empowers you to get treatment earlier, protect your partner, and children, from the disease, make plans for the future and help educate others about HIV.

While their mobility fuels disease, so too does the limited access to medical services. Which is why Cato Ridge, and North Star’s model, is able to make such an impact. The Blue Box RWC is located directly at the truck stop, conveniently located for the truck drivers passing through, along with the sex workers and community members living and working there.

This year the Red Velvet cupcakes were a hit, with the team reporting that a week’s worth of clients presented on a single day! For North Star – this is enormous success. More people are now aware of their status, and able to make choices for a healthy future.

*2013 World HIV and AIDS Estimates

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