Entertainment / Celebs And Viral

Nandipha Pantsi
2 minute read
13 Nov 2014
6:00 pm

Criselda Kananda takes on a new role

Nandipha Pantsi

She's been at the forefront of HIV and Aids awareness for years, inspiring progressive conversations about the highly stigmatised virus. But radio personality Criselda Kananda says she still has a lot more to do.

EDUCATOR. Criselda Kananda is the new ambassador of the annual Fezile Dabi HIV/Aids Benefit Concert. Picture: Valentina Nicol

We meet at a restaurant in Midrand. She’s excited about two things – Her new role as the Fezile Dabi HIV/Aids Benefit Concert ambassador and her engagement.

Kananda didn’t think twice when she was offered the role, previously held by Lesego Motsepe, who passed away earlier this year.

As an activist who has always been committed to changing the way people think about HIV and Aids, Kananda acknowledges a lot has been achieved when it comes to HIV and Aids awareness.

“When I announced my engagement last week, a lot of people were genuinely really happy and supportive of me. A few years ago the idea of an HIV-positive woman getting married would have been met with a lot of shock and judgment. For a long time I was considered ‘the face of HIV and Aids’ instead of a media personality who did a lot of educational work in HIV and Aids awareness – and it used to bother me.”

EDUCATOR. Criselda Kananda is the new ambassador of the annual Fezile Dabi HIV/Aids Benefit Concert. Picture: Valentina Nicol

EDUCATOR. Criselda Kananda is the new ambassador of the annual Fezile Dabi HIV/Aids Benefit Concert. Picture: Valentina Nicol

Despite this progress, Kananda admits there are still a lot of challenges when it comes to being an HIV and Aids educator.

“Very often people only start educating themselves about HIV when they or someone close to them is infected with it. A lot of people still need to embrace the knowledge that is out there about the virus and speak about it openly and honestly.

“Trying to educate people about the virus by scaring them is not acceptable any more. We need to start having deeper conversations about things such as nutrition and treatment, instead of limiting our discussions to condoms.”

The Fezile Dabi HIV and Aids awareness programme was launched by the Fezile Dabi District Municipality to raise awareness and funds for NGOs within the district.

“I really hope this event becomes a benchmark for HIV awareness programmes.

“We need to stop seeing HIV as something that is someone else’s problem. We can’t have campaigns with slogans such as: ‘My friend with HIV is still my friend’ any more. We need to start personalising the way we learn and speak about HIV,” says Kananda.