Thandeka Hlongwa Instagram

Image via Instagram/@tazhlongwa

KwaZulu-Natal influencer uses Insta to educate youth

KwaZulu-Natal journalism graduate Thandeka Hlongwa is using Instagram to inform millennials and post-millennials about HIV and GBV.

Thandeka Hlongwa Instagram

Image via Instagram/@tazhlongwa

Where many others are promoting beauty or brands, Instagram influencer Thandeka Hlongwa is educating her 15 000-plus followers on HIV/Aids.

The KwaZulu-Natal journalism graduate wants to educate millennials and post-millennials about the taboo subject and stigma that often surrounds the illness.

Certified digital marketer Hlongwa, 23, is a broadcast journalism graduate from the Durban University of Technology (DUT). She worked with MTV and B Wise, the Department of Health’s website designed to educate youth on health-related topics.

What drives Thandeka Hlongwa

“These issues are not under-exposed per se,” said Hlonga.

“But the way in which these issues are pre-packaged is out of tune and out of reach for people within the ages of 23 to 35.”

Hlongwa initially had an influencer contract with MTV Shuga, a coming-of-age drama series broadcast on MTV Base.

However, due to the lockdown the show took a web series approach called #AloneTogether.

This series highlights topics like gender-based violence (GBV) and the stigma attached to HIV, as well as COVID-19.

The collaboration between MTV and B Wise Health is to help spread positive messages about sex and everything related to it, which includes HIV.

The digital marketer shares educational and informative videos on her Instagram page, with a millennial touch.

“I think what makes my page possibly original is that you see me still being a 23-year-old while talking about these things. Whereas if it were a page with just statistics it would be boring. A human touch adds to it,” said Hlongwa.

Hlongwa’s video series

Face of BET and DJ at Gagasi FM, Nomalanga Shozi hosts one of the three videos in the #AloneTogether series.

Shozi is also an actress on MTV Shuga (also featured on the video) and gives advice on contraceptives and family planning.

Smiso Msomi’s advice

Smiso Msomi, who is a part of South Africa’s Brother for Life campaign, hosts a second #AloneTogether video.

This addresses the risks associated with alcohol abuse, GBV and HIV.

Msomi does a swift and informative video on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and anti-retrovirals (ARV).

Hlongwa invited Msomi to inform viewers on what each drug is for, how often they should be taken and when.

Mohale Motaung’s video

Mohale Motaung (also well-known as the husband of entertainer Somizi Mhlongo), is also part of the MTV Shuga Down South and MTV Shuga #AloneTogether video series.

His video builds on that of Msomi. He discusses testing, as well as how to deal with testing HIV positive. He covers the cautionary steps you can take when testing negative.