translation agency

Sunday Times-South Africa
Bid to test 100000 students for HIV this year

<p>Canaan Mdletshe</p>


March 8, 2013

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi wants every university and further education and training college student to be tested for HIV before they graduate.

He said the department would test 100000 students from different institutions of higher education across the country this year as part of the intensive First Things First HIV counselling and testing campaign.

In 2011, 22000 university students were tested and the number rose to 67000 students last year.

"This year, we are taking this campaign not only to universities but also to FET colleges.

"As you may know there are 50 public FET colleges with over 350 campuses. Our target this year is to test at least 100000 students in higher education settings," Motsoaledi said in Durban yesterday.

The aim is to test all 1.5million students before they graduate.

"To make it easier for HIV-positive patients, on April 1, we will be introducing the new fixed-dose combination treatment.

"This means that, instead of three tablets three times a day, HIV-positive patients need only take one tablet once a day," he said.

A single drug will cost the government R89 a month a person as opposed to R400 a month for the triple course.

Higher education HIV/Aids programme director Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia revealed yesterday that, according to a 2010 survey, at least 3.5% of higher education students were HIV-positive.

"We also found that 1.4% of academic staff were HIV-positive," Ahluwalia said.

At least 4.6% of the administration staff and 12.2% of service staff were HIV-positive.

"We believe that new figures are still at the same level as before," said Ahluwalia, adding that the new statistics would be released soon.

The province with the highest HIV prevalence at higher education institutes was the Eastern Cape at 6.4%. The Western Cape was lowest at 1.1%.

Of the students interviewed, 5% said they were tricked or pressured into having sex and 2% said they did it in exchange for money or gifts.

According to Statistics SA, in 2011 a total of 16.6% of citizens aged between 15 and 49 - an estimated 5.38million people - were living with HIV.



www.aegis.org