South Africa: HIV testing in schools will be professional, responsible

Pretoria – Cabinet has assured parents that care will be taken to ensure that the voluntary HIV testing in schools campaign will be done in a professional and responsible manner.

The Departments of Health and Basic Education have embarked on an initiative to introduce and implement voluntary HIV testing in schools. The initiative forms part of a campaign aimed at ensuring that all South Africans know their HIV status and receive treatment where necessary.

The voluntary campaign is expected to be rolled out at high schools and tests will be performed in private spaces on school premises during weekends and school holidays

“A task team consisting of the South African National Aids Council Secretariat, SANAC Children’s Sector, social workers from the Department of Social Development and representatives from the national and provincial education departments has been set up to ensure that the campaign is properly implemented,” said Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane on Thursday.

He was addressing the media after Cabinet’s first meeting earlier this week.

Chabane said the task team would formulate guidelines on how the campaign will be implemented and provide support to schools that require support.

A workshop has also been held by the Foundation for Professional Development to prepare all the professionals and NGO’s that will be involved in the testing of learners.

“Parents must be assured that care will be taken to ensure that the testing is done in a professional and responsible manner. We urge all teachers and learners to participate in the campaign,” said Chabane.

The Ministries of Health and Basic Education have said they will outline to the nation the full details of the campaign in due course, once their plans and consultations have been concluded.

Health Department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the department would ensure the programme was tailor-made for children, taking into account issues of confidentiality and support. A technical task team will ensure that child specific issues are addressed and that appropriate support and care is in place to assist children who opt to take part in the schools based campaign.

He added that the needs of learners for child specific support and follow-up required the campaign to adopt extra preparatory measures to safeguard the best interests of the children involved.

The campaign will be phased in through carefully selected schools and districts, which according to Hadebe, will allow for extensive monitoring and evaluation and guaranteed service delivery quality for the children.

Source – BuaNews