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Free on-campus health check-ups for students and staff
Free on-campus health check-ups for students and staff
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Free on-campus health check-ups for students and staff

Date Released: Mon, 12 February 2018 12:55 +0200

The Rhodes University Wellness Office and the SRC in partnership with the Department of Health (DoH) and the Raphael Centre are hosting a weeklong annual campus-wide First Thing's First HIV testing Campaign from Monday, 12 – 16 February 2018.

According to research conducted by the Higher Education and Training’s 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 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.

Students and staff are invited to take full advantage of this free service at the Union/ Steve Biko Lawns, Drodsty Bicycle Lawns and from Tuesday, 13 February, the station will be available at 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).

“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, staff make informed, and healthy choices that can reduce health care costs, increase vitality and enjoy better quality life.

South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/Aids in the world, at 11 percent (6 million) of the population, according to research done by Statistics SA in 2015. In addition, 17 percent of adults aged between 15 and 49 are HIV positive.

Thandi Mzizi, acting Manager: Student Wellness/ Harassment Office, assures that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking during the First Things First campaign currently rolling out, he believes that Rhodes University has the necessary capacity to deal with the medical, social and spiritual needs of those infected and affected by HIV/Aids.

According to Mzizi, “we have a holistic programme that includes the critical Antiretroviral Therapy. Our nurses are trained in Nurse Initiation Management of Antiretroviral Therapy (Nimart). Until recently, one had to wait for the doctor for initiation into anti-retroviral treatment. In addition, we rollout anti-retroviral free from government for those without medical aid. We are able to provide all healthcare services to students and staff who want to be tested, counselled and treated once positive,” said Mzizi.

Rhodes University’s Wellness division is made up of the HIV Office, Health Care Centre, The Counselling Centre, Harassment and Career Centre.

The HIV Office coordinates the University’s HIV/Aids programme for both staff and students.  It drives awareness to encourage prevention, care and support, positive living, and stigma reduction.  It also deals with the provision of ARVs, treatment literacy and compliance with the treatment protocol.

Twenty peer educators assist other students and ensure availability of condoms at appropriate points across campus.

The Counselling Centre provides registered psychologists, confidential counselling, a psychological after hours emergency line and ensures the provision of pre and post-test counselling.

These centres, along with the Antiretroviral Therapy Rollout (ART) programme have ensured that the quality of treatment available at Rhodes is of a high standard and is changing the face of HIV/Aids.

 Do the right thing and be health wise!