South African-born film star Charlize Theron issued a call to action for HIV and Aids prevention and used startling statistics about the infection rates among young women and girls. Speaking to a United Nations panel 'Ending the Aids epidemic by 2030' on 27 September, she spoke about stories from young women and girls she has met.
She said: "Just imagine an adolescent girl who musters up the courage to walk into a local clinic to ask for condoms only to be turned away by a nurse who says: 'You're too young to have a boyfriend. Come back when you are 18.' Imagine a young woman who says she would rather contract HIV than get pregnant because no one can see HIV.
"And so no one would shame her for being sexually active. Imagine a young woman who knows how HIV is transmitted and how to protect against it, but has to use sex to feed her family. You can stop imagining because these are all real stories."
Theron said this was why "One-third of new infections are among young people between the ages of 15 and 24. And why Aids is the number one cause of death for adolescents in Africa and number two cause of death for 10 to 19-year-olds globally".
The actress called for increased funding for HIV and Aids programmes and added: "Young people are the future and for their sakes and ours, now is not the time to waiver or turn back. It is time to act boldly on what we already know. It's time to end Aids."