Course gears students to tackle HIV/AIDS

02 August 2006

Singing sensation: Zolani Mahola visited HAICU after an invitation from Sean Brown and Cal Volks.

HAICU, aka HIV/AIDS Coordination UCT, hosted a short course on Creating Social HIV/AIDS Change Agents (SHACA) in June as part of UCT's Public and Continuing Education (PACE) Winter Programme.

The aim was to provide a course that tackled the obstacles to a successful programme roll-out, allowing practitioners to develop competencies in developing and running relevant and effective HIV/AIDS education programmes. The course was designed to refresh and update participants' on the latest research around health promotion and behaviour change, basic biomedical HIV/AIDS information (on transmission and treatment), the social aspects of HIV and AIDS, programme planning, fundraising, as well as monitoring and evaluation.

A guest appearance was made by Zolani Mahola, a former UCT drama student who is now the lead singer of Freshly Ground, the popular Afro-jazz band. Mahola opened up one session with a story of her life and how she perceived her success. The session was planned to inspire others to achieve their goals in HIV/AIDS programming, particularly around reaching young people.

"This workshop is a good initiative," said Mahola. "HAICU does great work and I believe that the youth should believe in themselves and to take care and love themselves and if you have a dream make it happen."

Participants were provided with skills to initiate and manage an HIV/AIDS education programme. Current thinking about practical implementation within organisations was interrogated. The use of social marketing was explored with regards to tools that successfully combat HIV fatigue, and revitalise skills for the training of trainers in peer education. This course was relevant to practitioners working in a variety of contexts, said HAICU.

The course aimed to give people working in the HIV/AIDS field an opportunity to recharge their skills.

HAICU staff have more than 10 years' experience in HIV and AIDS-related programme management, including monitoring, evaluation and fundraising, training in peer education, health psychology and behavioural theory, both in South Africa and abroad.

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