(USA TODAY) -- South African-born Charlize Theron met with South African president Jacob Zuma Monday in Pretoria, to discuss the fight against HIV and AIDS, particularly with regard to young girls.
It's always very special to return home and when I'm able to lend my support," the actress said, according toSouthAfrica.info. "We have come so far in this country with our HIV program. We have the highest number of people who are on HIV treatment, but we still have challenges. ... Young girls should be empowered enough to protect themselves. ... The school environment should be safe for that to happen."
In 2008, the United Nations named Theron, 37, as a Messenger of Peace, tasked with promoting efforts to end violence against women and other issues.
"She has been a pillar of strength in promoting our program," Zuma said after their meeting. "Today has been a very special day with this good citizen of ours joining us, she is representing South Africa in many respects. We believe the education of young people goes a long way to prevent any escalation of the disease. That's what Charlize has been doing."
"We can never stop talking about this disease," said Theron. "If we don't feel safe in our environment to talk about it, we cannot combat it."