Improved access and uptake of antiretroviral (ARV) medication in South Africa has enabled healthier living among HIV positive people, resulting in the gradual decline of AIDS-related deaths in recent years.
Regular testing and the subsequent early detection, diagnosis and treatment are among the interventions attributed to this. However, women aged 15 – 24 are still nearly twice as likely to be infected by HIV compared to any other age and gender grouping. Many students fall under this age group.
In a concerted bid to curb the spread of the pandemic, the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) ‘First Things First’ Campaign provides free HIV testing and screening of tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through mobile health services that are brought to all public universities and TVET colleges.
The Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Mduduzi Manana, will visit Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) on Thursday, 4 May, for the official launch of this year’s campaign.
The campaign’s purpose is to contribute to the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS, which seeks to eradicate the scourge of HIV/AIDS in, amongst other areas, institutions of higher learning. It focuses on voluntary HIV testing, as well as Tuberculosis and STI screening and educational programmes that create awareness of issues around HIV and general health and wellness.
NMMU Campus Health Service will be taking part in the campaign, to encourage staff and students to get tested for HIV and screened for other health related matters such as blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Deputy Minister Manana will be addressing challenges around stigma and discrimination with the aim to:
- support the reduction of HIV/ TB/ STI infection rates
- strengthen the empowerment of young women and girls
- achieve greater social equality and cohesion
- transform the TVET College sector
HIV Testing and other health screening will take place on the sidelines of the launch event, between 8:30 – 10:00 and 12:00 – 15:00 in the passage next to the Auditorium.
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