Shocking HIV Statistics Force Rhodes University To Embark On Tests

From Wednesday, Rhodes University – in conjunction with national government, healthcare representatives and Treatment Action Campaign members, started conducting free HIV/ Aids tests.

Spokesperson Ashley Stander said the “wellness drive” – which forms part of the institution’s ongoing HIV/Aids work on campus – follows the recent release of the Higher Education sector HIV/Aids survey report conducted in 2008/2009.

More than 23000 respondents from 21 higher education institutions across the country took part in the survey – 17062 students, 1880 academic staff and 4433 administration and service staff.

According to the research, the Eastern Cape was the province with the highest HIV prevalence among students and academic staff.

“The HIV/Aids survey indicated particular areas of concern in the incidence of HIV among administration and support staff,” said Stander.

Linked to the massive HIV/Aids wellness drive, free tests will also be conducted for diabetes, high blood pressure, iron levels and tuberculosis.

A “training session” of up to 10 minutes will precede the Aids tests, and a “one-on-one session with a counsellor will take place to finalise the rapid HIV test”.

The drive – over the next 10 days – will be held at four sites within the university grounds: Biko Building lawns, Eden Grove bicycle lawns, Kimberley dining hall lawns and the Drostdy dining hall lawns, and will be open to all Rhodes staff, their immediate family members, and students.

“The university will receive support from the government for running this wellness testing drive and, in the future, for offering free anti-retroviral treatment to staff and families from the Health Care Centre.”

Government will also provide all materials needed for the drive free of charge, including a dedicated social worker to address issues of HIV/Aids with staff for at least one year.

“Since the results are available within a few minutes, if the staff member is HIV positive he or she will be sent for further counselling and at the same time be given the opportunity to have a CD4 cell blood test to establish the type of treatment needed.”

If the HIV test is negative the staff member will be given post-testing counselling to ensure they remain HIV negative. Daily Dispatch Online