University urges students and staff to get tested
According to research conducted by the Higher Education and Training HIV and AIDS programme (HEAIDS), the HIV prevalence rate among South Africa's university students is at 3.4%. Although this percentage is low, risk is never far off according to one of the largest surveys ever conducted in the country.
The study also found that prevalence rates were about three times higher in students more than 25 years in age and that female students were hardest hit, exhibiting a prevalence rate of 4.7 percent - more than double the 2 percent rate found among their male peers.
The First Thing's First HIV testing Campaign is a voluntary HIV testing, counselling and education campaign which aims to encourage students to get tested for HIV, know their status and commit to behaviour that would benefit them and their peers.
Taking place on the week of 27 to 31 March 2017, students are invited to the first session of the First Thing's First HIV testing Campaign at the Union/ Steve Biko Lawns, Kimberly Dinning Hall Lawns, Bicycle Lawns and the Eden Grove Foyer from 8h30 to 16h00 daily.
This drive will include free tests for HIV and AIDS, TB and STI screening, Diabetes, Blood Pressure (BP), Nutrition Assessment (BMI), Family Planning and Pap smear (to be done at the Health Care Centre).
The campaign is facilitated by the Student Wellness and Human Resources Divisions in partnership with the Department of Health (DoH) and Raphael Centre. It is supported by the Rhodes Student Representative Council.
“Students and staff are encouraged to take part in this important initiative. Confidentiality is guaranteed and participants are made to feel comfortable and cared for by the volunteers. We have created a space where you are made to feel safe from judgement and discrimination,” said Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University.
“Besides teaching us to be responsible for our decisions, the campaign also empowers us by helping us find out our status and committing to a behaviour that enhances the quality of our health, protect us against HIV and AIDS infection or re-infection and other lifestyle diseases,” added Mabizela.
This initiative is part of the university’s wellness programme to help students and staff make informed and healthy choices that can reduce health care costs, increase vitality and enjoy better quality life.
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