| Top Aids Council spot for Griselda Dudumashe?

Controversial talk show host Criselda Kananda Dudumashe, who ignited fury on social media over the weekend for defending the woman-bashing Mduduzi Manana, is due to be appointed to the board of the SA National Aids Council (SANAC).

SANAC facing a legitimacy crisis

Sources close to the process told Health-e News that Dudumashe’s name had been sent to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is expected to announce the new SANAC board within the next week. SANAC is a multi-stakeholder body that co-ordinates the country’s response to HIV. There is no public process for the nomination of SANAC board members and nominations appear to come from SANAC staff and top health department officials.

SANAC is facing a legitimacy crisis after being accused by the Treatment Action Campaign, SECTION27 and others of being controlled by a clique led by Steve Letsike, SANAC’s deputy chair, and Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, CEO of the Higher Education and Training HIV/Aids Programme (HEAIDS) who are using the council to advance their own personal interests.

During the height of government’s Aids denialism, Dudumashe was part of a group centered around former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who worked to discredit antiretroviral medicine.

Former Mpumalanga Health MEC Sibongile Manana, was also part of this group. She is the mother of former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana, who resigned in disgrace over the weekend after being caught on camera bashing a young woman twice hard on her head while his henchmen held her down. The woman had apparently called him “gay” during an argument.

While Dudumashe expressed her “disappointment” at Manana’s behaviour in a Facebook post she has since removed, she went on to praise him as someone she has “travelled with countrywide to the most rural of villages” providing “socio-support to students with various issues from HIV infection, substance abuse, gender based violence” (GBV), someone committed to “youth development” and with “politics running in his veins” from “political family” who opened his eyes to injustice.

Promoted as a ‘role model’

Vuyokazi Gonyela, from human rights organisation SECTION27, said Dudumashe’s defence of Manana “is in line with her defence of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s quack remedies”.

“We are aware that HEAIDS is promoted Criselda and Manana, giving them platforms to – ironically – speak on gender-based violence.,” said Gonyela. “We would like HEAIDS to come clean on whether she will continue to enjoy this platform and how much she is being paid to do so.”

Meanwhile, TAC chairperson Anele Yawa said Dudumashe and Manana had been “rubbing shoulders on the HEAIDS and SHE Conquers programme that seeks to empower young women against new HIV infections”.

Dudumashe has been promoted as a “role model” through these programmes, said Yawa, but her defence of Manana was “an insult to these young women and a betrayal of those fighting for women’s emancipation”.

“Manana also beat the young woman because she called him gay,” said Yawa. “But there is nothing wrong with being gay. South Africa has one of the highest incidence of hate crimes against people because of their sexual orientation, and it is evident that Manana is one of the perpetrators of this.”

Life expectancy has leapt 10 years

Dudumashe has always liked hanging out with politicians, and her condemnation of ARVs ensured she was in with the dominant faction during the Mbeki years. At the time, Dudumashe claimed to be a disciple of Tine van der Maas, the Dutch nurse who said that her concoction of lemons, olive oil, beetroot, garlic and vitamins, could stop Aids.

However, in the post-Mbeki era, government discarded Aids denialism and rolled out the world’s biggest ARV treatment programme. The life expectancy of South Africans has leapt 10 years – from 52 in 2006 to 62 in 2014 – thanks to the ARV programme. Being an Aids denialist was no longer viable in the face of this evidence.

In order to survive as an HIV speaker in the new era, Dudumashe toned down her antipathy towards ARVs but still draws attention to their side effects.

No platform for Aids denialist

Yawa said he was shocked by the idea of Dudumashe serving on SANAC’s board:

“As TAC, we will object her appointment and we will do whatever in our powers to stop her appointment to that position because she’s a disgrace and disappointment to other woman and victims of GBV,” said Yawa. “We can’t have people whose minds are located into their bank accounts; people who prefer to make money and good fortunes about the pain and misery of others.”

Meanwhile, Gonyela said “we trust SANAC will also not give this Aids denialist any platforms or position and we will challenge any moves to do so”. – Health-e News.

Image from Twitter. | She was so overweight she was too embarrassed to go on dates with her husband – but look at her now!

A woman who once weighed 120kg says she felt so disgusted with herself and was “too embarrassed for her husband” to be seen out with him.

She now enjoys a romantic night out with him – after losing a staggering 44kg.

Becci Berry, from Great Manchester, England, piled on 19 kg after munching on more than 120 packets of chips a month, after she gave birth to her daughter, Aimee, in 2013.  

“I ate everything in sight,” says Becci, “I did it to make myself feel better and I ended up gaining a ridiculous amount of weight.”

The 32-year-old would eat takeaways and have multiple chocolate bars a day – which left her way too embarrassed to go on dates with her husband, Richard (40).

“I felt disgusting,” says Becci. “I didn’t like what I saw and I thought; why would he [her husband, Richard] want to go out with someone so big and disgusting?”

Becci, who often went to the park with her two kids, would sit and watch them because she felt too overweight and self-conscious to play with them.

The turning point came when she was unable to get her work trousers over her knees while getting ready for her first day back at work. Instead, the occupational therapist wore her maternity pants.

That’s when she felt broken and vowed to change.

“I thought, I’ve got to do something now, this is disgusting,” she says. “That’s when I found the nearest Weight Watchers meeting and took it from there.”

After joining Weight Watchers in 2013, Becci dropped 44 kg and now happily takes her kids to the park and plays with them.

She also goes to the gym regularly – something she previously absolutely hated doing.

After waving goodbye to the weight, Becci feels better than ever and can now enjoy romantic meals with her husband. She also admits to feeling way more comfortable getting dressed in front of him again.

“I go out with my husband now and I don’t feel embarrassed for him anymore. He was never bothered, it was me who was,” she says.

Article and images provided by Magazine Features

NEXT ON HEALTH24X | ‘Enough is enough,’ says Charlize Theron on Aids in SA

On a recent trip to South Africa Charlize Theron highlighted the importance of HIV education among SA youth.

The actress adressed the media on behalf of her own organisation the Charlize Theron African Outreach Project (CTAOP), and was joined by other groups dedicated to the eradication of HIV/Aids in the country.

Enough is enough

With support from CTAOP, projects such as the Choma Dreams Café – an internet-connected youth hub designed to provide young women with HIV prevention and social asset building programmes – are able to exist.

Theron believes that today’s youth will be the ones to end Aids, saying in a press statement: “The young people I meet are inspirational. They are driven, resourceful, and want to be heard. We absolutely must bring them into the room, and into the conversation.”

The star says the fight against Aids is one that must be tackled long before people are exposed to the virus. “We have to be able to put our foot down and say enough is enough, let’s end this,” she told AFP. “You cannot wait for people to become infected and think you are going to stop Aids. You have to invest in your people before they become HIV-positive,” she said.

HIV is 100% preventable

According to the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), the estimated total number of people living with HIV in 2016 was 7 053 987, while those receiving treatement at the time was estimated at 3 422 724.

Speaking to international news agency CNN, Charlize said the high number of infections in South Africa is unfortunate. “South Africa has been the hardest hit by this epidemic, and still is. And it’s just really unfortunate because HIV is 100% preventable.”

“I’m trying to get people not positive so they don’t need treatment. That’s my hope and my dream,” she added.

Image provided by Wikimedia Commons.