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World AIDS Day: Getting to Zero

On 1 December the world will observe World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness on the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

Unisa, like many other higher education institutions in South Africa, subscribes to the Higher Education HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) programme, and has contributed to this cause, hosting awareness campaigns and HIV/AIDS drives in an effort to educate staff and destigmatise the illness.

The university is expected to review its policy on HIV/AIDS, approved by Council in 2005, in the near future, a policy which will be informed by South Africa’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for 2012–2016, Living with HIV.

Vicky Malefo, Manager of the HIV/AIDS Division said, “There have been many interventions at Unisa, such as providing HIV/AIDS services involved in education, information, and communication through awareness campaigns as well as providing an ongoing HIV counselling and testing service every day on the Muckleneuk Campus.”

To monitor levels of prevalence amongst staff, information is gathered from medical aid service providers based on numbers only – all information received is not linked to any individual and always kept confidential by medical aid providers. “This gives us an indication of the impact of HIV at Unisa and allows us to deal with this reality as best as possible, at the same time heightening awareness,” said Malefo.

Another valuable tool is Unisa’s institutional First Things First (FTF) HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, which was launched in April 2012. More than 3000 staff and students have been tested across the institution. This campaign will continue to be rolled out in 2013.

In related HIV/AIDS news, programmes and initiatives supporting the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) with its vision of “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths” has resulted in the 2012 World AIDS Day report. The report shows that unprecedented acceleration in the AIDS response is producing results for people. It highlights the declining of new HIV infections in children, the role on antiretroviral therapy in decreasing AIDS-related deaths, and the investments being made towards HIV/AIDS globally. To read the report, click here.

World AIDS Day

Observed worldwide on 1 December since 1998, World AIDS Day unites people from around the world to raise awareness of the global AIDS response and to join, in solidarity, the millions of people living with and affected by HIV. Getting to Zero is the theme of World AIDS Day, echoing the UNAIDS vision of achieving “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths”. This theme will be used until 2015. For additional information on UNAIDS, click here.


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