HIV testing is fast and free

26 February 2009 | Story by Chris McEvoy

Sister Denise Cooper
Know your status: Sister Denise Cooper in the new mobile VCT unit.

The new mobile clinic offering free HIV testing to all staff and students on campus began its rounds on 16 February.

The voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) on-wheels service was initiated by the Student Wellness and Disability Services as part of its wider VCT programme.

VCT van

The mobile unit moves from campus to campus from 12h00 to 16h00 daily. The fully-equipped mobile clinic, which cost about R300 000, was made possible by a European Union grant allocated by the Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS), an initiative of the Department of Education to develop and strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions to respond to the country's HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The ongoing service will be funded by the university, and it is expected to be a permanent feature.

"At the moment the VCT unit is still in its trial phase," says Dr Ian Mackintosh, director of Student Wellness and Disability Services. "It will be available every day for four hours during the first term, but this could be tweaked, depending on the demand."

The VCT unit is staffed by a professional nurse, outsourced from Quinhealth, who offers both testing and counselling. Test results are available in 10 minutes, and appointments are not necessary.

Student Wellness also operates a drop-in VCT service in the Sports Centre on Upper Campus from 10h00 to 15h00 from Monday to Thursday. There will also be a large VCT drive on Upper Campus (in Jameson Hall) next week - from 3 to 5 March. Both these services are free and open to all students and staff.

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