August 2013 visiting the WhizzKids United in Edendale, South Africa. Credit : Pati Dubroff

Charlize Theron visiting WhizzKids United in Edendale, South Africa. Credit: Pati Dubroff

As a Messenger of Peace, Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron focuses on the prevention of HIV and the elimination of violence against women.  She is also the founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP). She shared the following post with our UN Social Media Team.

Sometimes it feels like some problems in our world are so large that they cannot be solved. But our progress in the fight against AIDS has renewed hope and shown that each of us has a part to play in making a difference.

In the 25 years we have been recognizing World AIDS Day (1 December), we have witnessed tremendous transformations. Treatment is available worldwide despite early fears that poor countries would never be able to afford access. Infection rates are dropping despite stark predictions that the epidemic would overwhelm entire regions. And despite the fact that nobody could imagine these discussions happening 15 years ago, we now talk about an AIDS-free generation and the beginning of the end of AIDS.

As a global community, we have seen that joining together for a common cause can better the lives of individuals and families all around the world. Quite literally, our collective humanity has created hope and inspired action, and as a result saved millions of lives.  But we are not finished. Young people are slipping through the cracks and this epidemic will not be defeated without reaching them.

As a global citizen and a mother, it is my wish that ALL our children grow up healthy and strong. I wish for a world where being born in one place gives you the same hope and the same start at life as being born in another. A world where all young people are empowered to keep themselves healthy.  Where they have access to health services, education, and the tools to achieve their goals.

The spirit of Ubuntu means “I am because we are.” It captures the interconnectedness of people everywhere. We are united in our fight against AIDS, and together, we will win.

In July 2014, Melbourne, Australia will host AIDS2014- the biennial International AIDS Conference. AIDS2014 represents our collective humanity – the global community coming together to learn from each other and to inspire each other to work harder, smarter, and faster towards realizing a world free of AIDS. Let us hope that AIDS2014 will be remembered as marking the final surge of the AIDS response – the moment key populations are no longer ignored or marginalized, the moment we said, “This last push will end AIDS,” and the moment that sets the stage for what will be our legacy for every generation to come.

Established in 2007, the CTAOP is committed to helping African youth keep themselves safe from HIV. The Project supports community engaged organizations that use innovative and community specific programming to work with youth between the ages of 10-20 years old, bringing critical resources like access to youth friendly healthcare, sexual and reproductive health education, life skills, and psychosocial support – all of which empower young people to keep themselves and their peers HIV free.