Pietermaritzburg - Actress Charlize Theron says that mothers can change the dire HIV/Aids situation by educating their children about the disease.Theron was speaking, along with former president Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel, on sexual and reproductive health and rights, treatment access and gender equality at the International Aids conference in Durban on Tuesday.The film star activist and Machel were joined by US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief ambassador Deborah Brix and Network of Zimbabwean Positive Women member Martha Tholanah.Theron represented the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and Machel the Graça Machel Trust. The discussion was attended by hundreds of people who came to hear the panel talk on HIV as the leading cause of death among women in developing countries.The panel discussed gender biases and the barriers preventing women and young girls from getting the treatment they need.Theron, who spoke passionately to the crowded hall, said that the situation could change if mothers taught their daughters and sons the realities of HIV/Aids. She said pregnant women used to smoke in the past because they did not know it could harm the baby. However, through research and mothers teaching their daughters the dangers of the habit, it had become unacceptable for mothers to smoke while pregnant.“This changed so quickly and it is good to see that if we put real focus and funding behind certain issues, a difference can be made.”Machel emphasised the importance of knowing one’s HIV status. “No matter how old you are, you need to know your status.”The discussion was well received, with people lining up to meet Machel and Theron. However, Theron’s fans were left disappointed when the star rushed off and exited the conference room briskly at the end.