{ Celebrity + Humanitarian = Celebritarian }

The Celebritarian is: CHARLIZE THERON.

“An entire generation was wiped out because of a disease that nobody wanted to talk about.”
CHARLIZE THERON

 LeBron-artwork

As an actress Charlize Theron has won two of the most coveted awards in the film industry: the Oscar and the Golden Globe. As a philanthropist she has been equally praised for her devotion to making the world a better place.

The “World Economic Forum on AIDS,” where she received the “Crystal Award,” honored the South African born humanitarian and she was named a “Messenger of Peace” by the United Nations. Both organizations recognized Theron’s fearless effort to be at the forefront – of what will hopefully be – the generation that eradicates HIV/AIDS and ends violence against women.

When Theron was eight-years-old she saw a photo of Princess Diana kissing an HIV patient in the hospital. That powerful image would one day become a source of inspiration for her own foundation, the “Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.” Launched in 2007, CTAOP supports NGO’s in South Africa who work closely with at risk youth, educating them on how to prevent and manage the disease. CTAOP’s website has also become an excellent resource of information for young South African’s, who use it’s easy to read and share updates as a way to stay informed on HIV/AIDS updates, medical breakthroughs and important statistics; including the following key notes:

• Since the beginning of the epidemic 30 years ago, it’s estimated that over 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses (UNAIDS 2013).

• South Africa is the country that carries the largest burden of the disease in the world, with an estimated 6.4million HIV positive individuals. The country is 1% of the population of the world, but 18% of the HIV positive population. (UNAIDS, GAP Report, 2013)

• Permanent change cannot happen without community buy-in. Community-based organizations are the experts on the ground who are passionate about making their communities better. They are the ones reaching the individuals that are falling through the cracks, but they need more support. We strive to develop collaborative, long-term relationships with grantees built on mutual trust and respect. In this manner, both CTAOP and our grantees can evolve together to increase each community’s capacity to prevent HIV. Lessons from the ground help inform CTAOP’s advocacy efforts at the policy level with groups like The Global Fund, UNAIDS, and the South African government, ensuring that policy remains connected to realities.

• Experience has taught us that education forms a basis to be able to make good decisions, but without addressing issues like gender disparities, self-efficacy, stigma, or the ability to negotiate safe relationships, education may be rendered powerless. For young people, the ability to protect themselves from HIV is encompassed in their overall empowerment and ability to invest in their own futures as well as the future of their peers and communities. Providing knowledge and support leads to changes in attitudes and increases self-efficacy. This change influences behavior, empowering young people to make healthy decisions with regard for their futures. CTAOP supports programs that align with this theory of change.

Theron would like to see the day when progressive conversations about HIV/AIDS are readily discussed, among family members and friends. If that were to happen, a new era of judgment-free life saving discourse could occur. In the meantime, CTAOP will continue to provide the guidance, love and light so many at risk South African children need to survive and then, really live.

This month we are thrilled to honor Charlize Theron as the “Celebritarian of the Month,” for standing tall and speaking loud to help those with no voice or platform of their own.

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Charlize Theron honored at the World Economic Forum on AIDS

Charlize Theron at the CGI Investing in Prevention panel discussion

Charlize Theron’s #GenEndIt video

Charlize Theron: ‘We’ve Become Complacent’ About AIDS

Charlize Theron presents UN report to end AIDS epidemic by 2030