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Health

Charlize Theron Has a Plan for Ending AIDS in South Africa, and It Starts With Girls’ Empowerment

Flickr/UN Photo/Marie Frechon

Actress Charlize Theron has had a busy week fighting for an important cause. 

On Monday, the South Africa-native hung out with Trevor Noah and Chelsea Handler at Cape Town’s Oaklands High, where they sat in on a class and watched students dance the Haka. 

On Wednesday, Theron made her way to Soweto, a township  near Johannesburg, to pay a visit to young women at the Choma Dreams Cafe, an internet cafe that doubles as a trauma counselling center for girls with HIV. 

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So why is Theron doing all of this? It’s all part of her fight for an AIDS-free South Africa, which, she believes, starts with youth empowerment. 

“We have to be able to put our foot down and say enough is enough, let's end this,” Theron told Agence France Presse of Africa’s AIDS crisis, which affects one in five South Africans. 

Both her visit to Oaklands High and the Choma Dreams Cafe were done in collaboration with her foundation, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), which supports community based organizations and nonprofits that support South African youth. 

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At the Choma Dreams Cafe on Wednesday, she spoke with girls between 6 and 18 years old, “providing them with HIV prevention tips in fun girl-friendly ways,” the Daily Mail reports

"You cannot wait for people to become infected and think you are going to stop AIDS,” she said. “You have to invest in young people before they become HIV-positive.” 

Read More: Charlize Theron Released an Incredible UN report About Ending AIDS by 2030

According to South Africa’s Eyewitness News, the Choma Dreams Cafe in Soweto is one of several similar cafes that CTAOP supports in an effort to lower the incidence of AIDS among South African youth.

An estimated 240,000 South African youth under the age of 14 are infected with the virus, which is preventable given proper education and access to health care services. Global Citizen is calling on African leaders to prioritize women’s and children’s health. You can take action here

“For me and where my focus really stands with CTAOP is on really focusing on the adolescents of this country, the young people of this country, who will be the future of this country,” Theron told CNN, “and not treating them to curb AIDS, but to invest in them, invest in their health to be the future leaders, not just of South Africa, but of this world.”