loveLife, in collaboration with the National Department of Health, calls upon the young people of South Africa to know their HIV status, to this effect we are launching Toetsa as our 2015 World Aids Day campaign.

The Toetsa campaign will be broadcast in the nine South African official languages on SABC radio stations and on over 20 community radio stations across South Africa and it will include public service announcements with the voices of high profile personalities including Amanda du-Pont, Clement Maosa, Cornet Mamabolo, Tshepo Maseko, Presley Chweneyagae and Pearl Thusi among others.

loveLife groundBREAKERs (peer motivators and community mobilisers) and health care professionals who are involved with the implementation of the National Department of Health’s Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) programme, will be visible throughout the country, encouraging young people to undergo HIV counselling and testing (HCT). Young people will be referred to the relevant HCT sites such as community and mobile clinics, where they can also check their Blood Pressure, Blood Cholesterol levels, etc. Young people will also have the opportunity to take HIV and all other tests at the Vitality Centres within the loveLife Y-Centre Academies. Youth visiting the loveLife Y-Centre Academies will also get an opportunity to sign-up to loveLife’s mobi site, iloveLife, where they will be able to access information on various issues affecting youth. They will also be able to complete activities, perform clinic searches, enter super-hot competitions whilst earning points. iloveLife rewards young people who make positive choices with prizes, including airtime, clothing and food vouchers. To sign up for iloveLife, you can log onto iloveLife.mobi or dial *120*2121# and follow the prompts.

The Toetsa campaign is in line with the new 90-90-90 strategy crafted by UNAIDS and being implemented by the National Department of Health. It focuses on three target areas, namely by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, by 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and by 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. This strategy is clearly very dependent on the drive towards HIV testing as only those who test will know their HIV status and only those who know (and can prove) their HIV positive status can access antiretroviral therapy.

As part of the Toetsa campaign, young people are encouraged to send a PLZ CAL ME (Please Call Me) to the loveLife Contact Centre on 083 323 1023 for support and information or alternatively call loveLife’s toll-free number on 0800 121 900. The Contact Centre also offers healthy sexuality information, including on HCT, while also providing free telephonic counselling and referrals.

“Just because you haven’t tested, doesn’t mean your HIV negative,” says Dr Lebo Maroo, loveLife’s Deputy CEO. “It’s important to test for HIV because if you’re HIV negative, you are motivated to keep engaging in healthy behaviour to stay that way. If you’re HIV-positive, you can start treatment immediately and lead a healthier lifestyle by eating a more nutritious diet and exercising regularly. You can stay as healthy as possible, live a complete life and contribute to society in a productive manner.

“Knowing your status enables you to make informed, better decisions. You should feel as comfortable about testing for HIV as you are about testing for other health-related issues, for example, your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.”

So the Toetsa campaign is all about getting young people to know their status – which empowers them to better manage their lives.