AIDS update – FACT: Families Acting Together

09 September 2002
ONE OF the objectives of the HIV/AIDS unit is to ensure that the UCT campus is a supportive environment for those who are living with HIV and AIDS. Increasingly over the past few years, we have come across a number of students and staff members who are directly affected by the epidemic. There is, at present, no HIV-specific support on Campus, and the HIV/AIDS Unit is stepping in to fill this gap. The FACT (Families Acting Together) programme has been developed in order to provide these students and staff with the support that they need in order to cope with the realities of AIDS.

The ordinary pressures of dealing with issues around illness and death are multiplied in a society where the disease in question is cloaked in secrecy and stigma. Those who have first-hand experiences of HIV and AIDS often find it difficult to share their concerns because of this. The FACT programme creates a forum where these people can talk about these experiences in an open, supportive and confidential environment.

The primary aim of the series of workshops is to offer relevant tools to those who are living with HIV; those who are supporting people who are living with HIV and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS. The workshops aim to ensure that these groups are given the necessary skills in order to successfully manage the situations that they find themselves in.

In order to empower the participants to successfully cope with the issues at hand, the workshop will cover the following areas: attitudes to people who are HIV-positive; disclosing an HIV-positive status; dealing with discrimination and rejection as a result of being affected or infected by HIV; lifestyle and health maintenance options; caring for the carer; and living with the loss of a loved one. The secondary aim of the programme is that it serves as a starting point for the formation of support groups for people who are infected and affected by HIV. A qualified psychologist will manage these support groups off-Campus.

The first series of workshops will be run over four consecutive Wednesday evenings in September and October. The FACT workshop series will be repeated in 2003. These workshops and the support group are open to all UCT students and staff at no charge. Booking is essential. Please contact Mandy on 650-3863 for bookings, or email

– Emma Durden

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