In his recording studio, Samba Peuzzi chats with his musicians with the energy that characterizes him. He is one of the rising stars of the Senegalese music scene. With a growing popularity, concerts everywhere, millions of followers on social networks, Samba is an artist that young people in Senegal and West Africa admire and respect. His lyrics have impact and his opinions matter to his fans.
Samba is also a man worried about the challenges his country faces; a man moved by the plight of all those people deprived of everything.
This is what prompted the singer to get involved with UNAIDS in the fight against HIV in Senegal and West and Central Africa. He is particularly concerned about ending paediatric HIV in the country and the region. He therefore decided to lend his voice to this cause on the International Day of the African Child.
Despite his busy schedule, Samba takes a break and records a message for the youth in Senegal and the region. He warns them against complacency and asks them not to forget about AIDS, which is still devastating and causes a death every minute in the world. “In the region, 4.7 million people are living with the disease and 150,000 people died of AIDS-related causes in 2020,” he says. “We will only be safe once everyone is safe.” He stresses the importance of testing and particularly emphasizes the issue of children, who are often left to fend for themselves.
In 2020, 24% of children living with HIV were living in West and Central Africa, where the rate of newborn testing is the lowest in the world. In the same year, an estimated 39,000 children and adolescents aged 0-14 died of AIDS-related illnesses in the region—which represents 39% of global AIDS-related deaths in this age range. Samba adds that vertical transmission of the virus is the highest in the world, a transmission that can be prevented with appropriate treatment. “We must do better! Let’s get involved,” he insists.
or UNAIDS, collaborating with artists like Samba is particularly important. “Few people doubt of the validity of our messages,” says Patrick Brenny, UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “AIDS is a problem that needs to be addressed, everyone can agree on that. But getting that message across to the right people remains a challenge. Samba Peuzzi, thanks to his visibility and reputation among young people, helps us raise awareness and invite them to get involved in the fight against HIV. This action is essential.”
Samba Peuzzi’s message confronts young people with a painful reality, but also has the power to generate positive change. It reminds young people that it is possible to live a normal and productive life with HIV today. Early detection is the starting point for living a long and healthy life with HIV by quickly accessing treatment that can stop the progression and transmission of the virus. “You don’t have to die from AIDS nowadays,” says Samba. Someone living with HIV today does not have to renounce a fulfilling emotional and sexual life, nor considering having children.
At a time when the region is facing multiple crises related to COVID-19, the conflict in Ukraine and rising prices, it is essential to maintain the efforts invested in the response to HIV and restore access to testing and treatment as soon as possible. With Samba, we look to the future with optimism and ambition.