The North West is expected commemorate World Aids Day on Sunday at the James Motlatsi Stadium in Orkney in the North West. The event will be led by Deputy President David Mabuza under the theme: “Communities Make the Difference – Cheka Impilo.”

The area has a high prevalence of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Orkney, which is part of the Matlosana municipality, falls under the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District. It is a mining area with a population of over 690 000 people.

Many from across the country and neighbouring countries flocked to the area during the 1980’s seeking employment, but most of the mining companies have closed shop due to mineral depletion. Thousands are unemployed and many are now living with the disease.

Spokesperson for the provincial health department, Tebogo Lekgethwane, says the area is regarded as one of the hotspots for the disease.

“Kenneth Kaunda as a mining district after Bjanala, these are our hotspots. We can also realise that it is on the N12, which means we also have a lot of people coming here from other areas looking for jobs so; as a result, the prevalence of HIV is very high. So we will be doing community visits to make sure we talk to the people directly.”

37-year-old HIV activist, Lucia Valela, an HIV activist, found out in 2018 that she was HIV positive. Although she tested negative at first, a second test changed her life.

“I found out last year (2018) September about my status. We went to the clinic, I got tested. I was negative by then. I got my medication for shingles and I treated them, but at the back of my mind there was something that said go and get tested.”

Chairperson of the Organisation for People Living with HIV in North West, David Molaolwa, has encouraged people to test for HIV to know their status.

“It helps many people to know their status. It helps many people to be free because people living with HIV think they are isolated from the community)

Deputy President David Mabuza is expected to re-launch the North West provincial Aids Council on Sunday.