UCT Health Sciences honours Uys

19 August 2002
PIETER-DIRK Uys, South Africa's most celebrated satirist, was recently presented with an award in recognition of his contribution in educating school pupils across South Africa about HIV/AIDS at a function at UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences Learning Centre.

The Health Sciences Faculty presented the award to Uys while marking the end of a pilot HIV/AIDS peer training course that involved 300 volunteers in their first-year of medicine at UCT and Stellenbosch University. Over the last two years, Uys has delivered his frank message about HIV/AIDS to an estimated 400 000 pupils. In his address to an audience of 300 medical students, invited guests and journalists, Uys displayed his comic genius with a candid talk that has caused some controversy recently.

"I have never had sex, I just indulged. I am an entertainer, let me make that clear, not a medical expert like President Thabo Mbeki," Uys said before launching a satirical assault on Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who walked out of one Uys's shows when confronted about HIV/AIDS by his alter-ego Evita.

Uys ended his address by saying, "If we can keep the kids alive, it will mean we will have the greatest country the world has ever seen."

Dr Athol Kent from the Youth Aids Project said that, according to statistics, it is the youth who are the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, and the only way to change their sexual behaviour is to empower them with knowledge and change their attitude.

The Youth Aids Project is a non-profit organisation that has been established to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS among young South Africans. Its long-term goal is to inform school children about HIV/AIDS using university students from the faculties of health sciences.

"We believe that school teachers are not necessarily the right people to tell pupils about sex. We think that the message will be heard more clearly from medical students instead who come from the same community, who speak the same language, who are trusted by parents and are the right age," he explained.

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