ACEs active on campus in O-Week

19 February 2007

Can't touch this– without a condom is the message that has greeted Freshers arriving at UCT this year.

This, the latest campaign staged by the HIV/AIDS Coordination UCT (HAICU), is unambiguous in its message: If your choice is not to abstain from sex, wear a condom for every sexual encounter. This way you will be protected from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, as well as pregnancy.

As part of the campaign, a pack is being distributed to each Fresher during Orientation Week, inside which is a pair of boxer shorts with the Can't touch this– motif, a pack of condoms, and useful information on services available to students at UCT, including counselling and where to get tested.

The Can't touch this– campaign dovetails with a series of '07 Orientation Workshops run by AIDS Community Educators (ACEs). ACEs are students who have been equipped by HAICU with the necessary skills to provide HIV and AIDS-related information to their peers. They have been talking to students in 40-minute workshops, discussing how HIV is transmitted, how infection can be prevented - through abstaining or using a male or female condom - and outlining the support services available at UCT for people affected by and living with HIV.

For many new students, this is the first access they have to information about HIV and AIDS. For others, knowledge is refreshed and myths and misinformation are dispelled. As a whole the campaign is intended to encourage students to make appropriate and healthy life choices.

Further workshops are planned for later this year to address contextual and related issues, such as gender, relationships and stigma. These will be complemented by programmes that prepare students to address HIV and AIDS in their future professions, thus contributing towards an AIDS-competent society.

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