South Africa: Youth urged to test for HIV

Pretoria – Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has called on young people leaving school and those in institutions of higher learning to get tested for HIV.

The theme for World Aids Day 2011 is ‘Getting to Zero’

He said they should ensure they were well informed about the pandemic and avoid exposing themselves to the risks of contracting the virus.

“I particularly want to call upon those who are about to start at institutions of higher learning, who will for the first time in their lives be independent and away from direct parental supervision, to get information and knowledge so that they may behave in a way that does not expose them to the risk of contracting HIV.”

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has made a commitment to incorporate the fight against the HIV and Aids pandemic in all its skills development initiatives in institutions of higher learning and training.

A study released by the Higher Education and HIV and Aids Programme (HEAIDS) last year revealed that among students in institutions of higher learning and training who reported having had sex, HIV prevalence was about 4 percent.

The study was conducted two years ago in institutions of higher learning and training using a sample of 17 000 students, 1 880 academic staff and 4 433 administrative and services staff.

“We have incorporated the fight against this pandemic simply because as a country, we cannot afford to train our youth and young adults for the grave,” Nzimande said.

“We need them for the workplace and effective participation in our society’s social and economic activities.”

The HIV and Aids pandemic is one of the seven key developmental and transformation priorities of the DHET, with the other six being race, class, gender, geography, age and disability as outlined in the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III).

Nzimande said focus on fighting HIV and Aids was key to the future growth and development of the country. He appealed to youngsters to delay involvement in sexual relationships.

“… Youth [must] not to rush into being sexually active… However, those who choose to be sexually active should always use a condom, be faithful to their partner and at all costs avoid multiple and concurrent sexual partners.”

World Aids Day marks an important reminder to all sections of the South African population that HIV has not gone away. There is still a vital need to increase awareness, strengthen support and improve education.

Source:- BuaNews – 1 Dec 2011