Ex-Miss SA uses her voice to raise HIV-prevention awareness

Former Miss SA 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida. Picture: Supplied

Former Miss SA 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 7, 2024


Shudufhadzo Musida, former Miss South Africa, author, and mental health activist emphasised HIV awareness at the HollywoodBets Durban July, promoting crucial conversations on HIV prevention and awareness.

Musida wore an exclusive Imprint ZA dress promoting HIV awareness through the #ForeverWena campaign, highlighting sexual health options in KwaZulu-Natal, the country’s most HIV-affected province.

The beauty queen is actively participating in the campaign, promoting HIV prevention and awareness and empowering youth through education and self-management.

Shudu explains her decision to support the #ForeverWena campaign in a detailed discussion.

“The #ForeverWena campaign is very close to my heart because we’re finally having that conversation. The conversation we had in the early 2000s when we were growing up turned the silent HIV epidemic into one that was slowly being destigmatised through education. What once was a silent killer became a conversation we all had to have.

“I work in the gender equity and health space, specifically mental health, and the alarming statistics I have seen on the prevalence of HIV/Aids among the youth are alarming, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. I chose to join the campaign as an advocate for an HIV-free generation, and that starts with education in the most accessible and relatable way — getting information about where people are and not where we want them to be.

“Every voice on this campaign, not just mine but the voices of the people who follow my platform will extend and take this campaign further in different communities. We’ve seen the power of ‘word of mouth’, and social media amplifies that ‘word of mouth’. I saw how one step, such as ‘Mindful Mondays’, significantly changed mental health through education. The premise was that people fear what they do not know, and the more we empower them, the more they make informed health choices.”

She also discloses that online and in-person discussions around HIV prevention, self-choice, and regaining control over sexual health decisions are taking place between peers and medical experts.

“The conversations have reignited in the most beautiful way. Unlike back in the day, the youth understand that this conversation is no longer shameful and that our collective responsibility is to make informed health choices and ensure those around us also make informed choices and put themselves and others first. The collective voices across different platforms, fields, and environments are where the change multiplies.”

Explaining her majestic dress, she says: “This dress represents freedom of choice and our autonomy, especially in our interactions. Options are available to ensure we all make the right choices to protect ourselves and others. I love how the garment encapsulates the boldness of this conversation and campaign.

“Everyone stopped and was present in the garment and its message. Art can evoke emotions, urgency, and social change; this garment did just that. The conversation has started, and I hope it continues because #ForeverWena.”

Mzukisi Mbane, a designer at mprintZA, used #ForeverWena student rallies’ messaging placards to create unique prints, showcasing the South African youth’s voice through fashion.

“Fashion has always been a powerful tool to ignite social and political change,” says Mbane.

“I’ve been inspired by its ability to communicate a message and act as a mirror of the socio-economic conditions of the time. Today, my fashion, in partnership with #ForeverWena is making a statement to inspire social change.”

∎ Adolescent girls and young women in South Africa are reported to be disproportionately affected by HIV; accounting for 25% of new infections due to high community prevalence, gender inequality, and age-discordant relationships.

The Star

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