Young people are a target group that the SDC supports through its bilateral partners and other multilateral agencies, such as UNAIDS.
To mark World Aids Day on 1 December, the SDC has funded the recording of a track by the Ivorian performer Sim-Kool who is committed to the cause. «Mon Pote prends Capote» addresses the prevention of HIV and is aimed at young people in particular.
Singer-songwriter Sim-Kool’s career as a performer began in the 1990s. His involvement in the fight against HIV/Aids goes back to the early 2000s. He is currently the goodwill ambassador for the Geneva Aids Group and spokesperson for the Association mondiale en faveur des orphelins (World Association for Orphans), which organises the Ivorian rural festival each year in Indénié-Djuablin, the region where Sim-Kool was born.
This festival was the first in the region to hand out condoms, to carry out testing for HIV and Aids and to provide follow-up support for those infected. Sim-Kool has also worked with the Swiss Aids Federation on several occasions.
The SDC funded the recording of your latest track which encourages young people among others to use protection. You are a goodwill ambassador for the Geneva Aids Group and you have worked in this field as a performer committed to the cause for over ten years. How did you become involved in this issue?
I am not directly affected by HIV/Aids but I know several people personally who unfortunately have to cope with HIV every day. My cousin died of Aids. As a singer, I appreciate that music can make a major contribution to raising awareness. Take «We Are the World» by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, for instance – that song, which aimed to help with the struggle against the famine in Ethiopia, was a worldwide hit.
What is your message to young people faced with the Aids epidemic?
My message to young people is not to play with their lives, to be cautious when starting relationships and most importantly to control their desires. The consequences can be irreversible and destroy their lives.
How can music and lyrics help in the fight against this epidemic?
It’s said that music is good for the soul. I believe the impact of music goes beyond that. It is a genuine form of therapy – it has a profound healing and curative effect. My single «Mon Pote Prends Capote» seeks to prevent HIV in particular.
What does the future hold – how do you intend to continue the campaign?
In future, I would like to do even more on behalf of the Sub-Saharan community in Switzerland as well as in my native country, the Ivory Coast, especially for the people in the region where I was born, Indénié-Djuablin. I will continue my fight until we achieve zero infections, zero discrimination, zero disease and zero deaths from HIV/Aids. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the management of the Geneva Aids Group who have enabled me in my capacity as goodwill ambassador to undergo high-level training on HIV/Aids.
Alarming figures concerning young people
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided to focus on the prevention of Aids amongst young people and adolescents on 1 December 2013. This group remains vulnerable despite the efforts made in recent years to raise awareness.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the number of adolescents aged 10 to 19 dying of Aids increased by 50% between 2005 and 2012. At the same time, the overall number of deaths caused by the epidemic has fallen by 30% worldwide.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of infected young men and women aged 15 to 24 fell sharply by 42% between 2001 and 2012. This group nevertheless still accounted for 39% of the two million young adults infected in 2012.
Poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and complex generational dynamics can cause young people to adopt high-risk sexual practices, such as prostitution, and lead women seeking a better life to have sex with older men. The understanding of the social context and gender dynamics therefore remain key factors in achieving a reduction in the epidemic.