Getting on board: Sharing their thoughts on World AIDS Day were members of the UCT community (front, from left) Glenda Wildschut (Transformation Services Office), Dr Max Price, Lucina Reddy (UCT's HIV/AIDS Institutional Co-ordination Unit, or HAICU); and (back, from left) student Sibongakonke Khoza from HAICU, Ashley Taylor (Organisational Health and Retirement), and Cal Volks (HAICU).
On 29 November, members of the UCT community, including Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, joined delegates at conference hosted at UCT by the Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programme (HEAIDS) to write messages as part of a global World AIDS Day campaign.
It is estimated that globally 33.3 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people died from the virus between 1981 and 2007, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
"Many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV, and a greater understanding about the condition."
But despite these advances research that shows that many people do not feel able to protect themselves and others from HIV and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV.
At the same time, AIDS funding had decreased dramatically. This has created a need to raise money to - keep HIV prevention messages fresh, fight prejudice, improve treatment uptake and retention, and continue to make headway in biomedical and social science research, implementation and evaluation.
"As higher education institutions, it is crucial, now more than ever, to continue contributing to South African society in the fields of research, teaching, co-curricula student education, staff education, treatment referrals and social responsiveness" said Price.
He added that UCT's contribution centred on its scientists and social scientists in the field, the hosting of a sector-wide conference of HIV units from tertiary institutions, and increased uptake of HIV testing among staff and students on campus.
"UCT has played a leading role in responding to HIV, but we have further to go and we will continue to respond appropriately for as long as this role is required" he noted.
"World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for everyone to clarify facts about HIV, put knowledge to action by educating ourselves and others around HIV transmission, including contextual factors; and participate in HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support for people living with HIV."
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