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Branson, Ramaphosa launch new Aids drive
British businessman Sir Richard Branson and mining magnate Cyril Ramaphosa were at the Cida campus in Braamfontein to launch two projects to fight HIV/Aids in South Africa.
Hundreds of Cida students and a pack of local and foreign journalists attended the launch of the "Your Finest Hour" project. The project would bring the music and business worlds together in the fight against HIV/Aids by having people donate one hour of their salaries to the fight, Branson said.
The project is named after a remark made during a speech on June 18, 1940 by Winston Churchill after France had fallen to the Germans, said Cida campus chief executive Taddy Blatcher. Blatcher said of the Aids epidemic: "This is a war. Millions and millions and millions of people are dying in Africa."
He noted that woman made up four out of every five of those aged between 15 and 24 who were infected with the HI-virus.
For this reason the Women On the Move project was also launched, a joint initiative between Love Life, the South African Life College and Cida, designed to get young women to take charge of their futures.
Blatcher attributed the alarmingly high incidence of HIV infection among young women to, amongst other causes, the fact that power in sexual relationships often lay in the hands of men.
"We need to build a generation of young women who can take control of their futures," he said.
An ambassador for the project, United Kingdom hip-hop artist Estelle Swaray, said to the hundreds of young women in attendance: "Don't let anyone tell you can't be anyone you want to be."
Ramaphosa is the vice-president of the Global Business Coalition (GBC), an association of 170 companies committed to the fight against HIV/Aids. He said that the GBC would be working with local initiatives as well as the small and medium enterprises to complement their work.
Asked whether the country could afford to have more delays in the rollout of anti- retroviral drugs, Ramaphosa replied: "Our government has moved quite a lot from the position that prevailed a few years ago. We're seeing parents burying their children. We need to be doing much more. We need to get to grips with this pandemic, arrest it and reverse it."
Talking of his visits to hospitals and clinics in South Africa and noting the "inspiring" work they were doing in the fight against Aids, Branson said: "I think there is hope in Africa."
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