As the Students' Representative Council's (SRC) Samanthaclaire Ncube points out, nobody needs telling how serious an issue HIV/AIDS is for society.
|Accountability: Students like Graylene Gelderbloem sign a pledge wall, committing themselves to taking responsibility for their sexual health.||Pointing the way: HAICU's Lucina Reddy and the SRC's Samanthaclaire Ncube set the tone at the First Things First testing drive.|
The health, safety and security co-ordinator thus joined her SRC colleagues in getting their HIV status tested as part of the launch of UCT's First Things First (FTF) campaign on 28 February, a voluntary counselling and testing programme hosted by the Student Wellness Service in collaboration with the HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit (HAICU).
The FTF was borne of collaboration between the national Department of Health, Higher Education HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS), the South African National AIDS Council, and 23 tertiary institutions around the country. It aims to test thousands of students for HIV and, at the same time, address HIV-related stigma.
Since the campaign was launched last year, 22,000 students have been tested. The 2012 instalment aims to take that number to as much as 35,000.
Lucina Reddy, project officer at HAICU and UCT coordinator of First Things First, explains that the campaign aims to instil a sense of responsibility into students regarding their sexual lives.
"We want to tell students that this is good time to get tested. You're making decisions, meeting new people , so it's important you talk about your own sexual health and your own risk behaviours."
Ncube added that it was crucial to motivate young people to fight the spread of the disease.
"We need to get more and more youth taking up the cause and saying, listen I'm going to get tested, I need to know my status," she says. "So, we feel it's important that we, as the SRC, lead by example."
The project ran from 28 February until 1 March on UCT's Upper and Health Sciences campuses.
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