First Things First: What’s the big deal?

Written by: Bongumsa Gwiji, PR Intern

If you have been in DUT for over a year, you have probably seen (and heard about) the First Things First campaign. It is a student wellness campaign that is run by the HIV/AIDS Centre every semester across all the campuses. You might remember it as those people who give us USB for testing, remember them? Yes, I knew you would!

Just to refresh your memory (even though they already gave you ‘memory sticks’), the campaign encourages us as young people to put our health first. Since HIV is one of the biggest challenges that we face as young people, they also encourage HIV testing. Let’s face it, most of us either think we do not need to do health tests or we are just scared!! That’s why they create a youth-friendly environment for us to test. I have noticed that most of us only remember to test when we see the tents and goodies that they give us. I’m sure many of us did not even know that you can receive the same services on campus at the campus clinics.

Shining the light on the future

Written by: Londiwe Dube, PR Intern

This year we celebrated the continuity of life with the theme “Shining the light on our future”. This year’s 33rd annual Candlelight was celebrated on the 18th of May 2016 with the students and staff of DUT.

This year we celebrated the Candlelight Memorial event with a bit of a twist. Unlike the years before, there was no mourning, no crying or feeling sorry for ourselves. We do not deny that most people have lost loved ones to HIV, but with the many gains South Africa has made with HIV many people are living longer. We wanted to change the mood and remind young people that an HIV diagnosis is not the end, just a detour. It is then up to the person to make their future what they want it to be.

While for some people HIV has become a chronic disease, many others still lack access to correct information, treatment and support. What is even concerning is that most people still experience HIV-related stigma, discrimination and human rights violations on a daily basis. This is what we wanted to change. We wanted to remind everyone, whether infected or affected, that with education and a positive attitude they could do not anything they put their minds to. Most importantly, the event was about challenging our own myths and perceptions about people we viewed as different.

The speakers of the day touched on the relevant issues that were affecting the youth of today. Among the speakers, were members of civil society, a former DUT student who living with HIV and also the SRC leadership. The speakers were mostly young people who had positive stories and words to share with their peers. It was also refreshing way of communicating with young people who are often “tired of hearing about HIV”. On the day it was also highlighted that gender-based violence, alcohol/drug abuse and inconsistent condom use were some of the reasons that HIV infections were rising among young people.

It was interesting to engage with some of the young people who attended the event. When asking students about the day and what was their highlight of the day they said:

Knowing my status was my highlight” Sanele*, 21 years. (Undergrad)

“Well that abstaining is still in fashion was a highlight, lol!” Zukiswa*, 20 years. (Undergrad)

“The MC Radio Gee did it for me!” Andile*, 19 years. (Undergrad)

“Not only was it informative, it was also very entertaining.” Zama*, 26 years (Postgrad)

As we plan for Candlelight 2017, we are encouraged by the shifts in perceptions among the young people. The HIV/AIDS Centre continues to find innovative ways to engage young people on sexual reproductive and health rights. We are also hopeful that our students will continue to demonstrate leadership in these matters.

 

THE HIV/AIDS CENTRE GETS ITS BIO-TECH ON!

Written by: Kwalunga Lureme, PR Intern 

The HIV/AIDS Centre has been partnering with second-year biotech students in a campaign to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS. These events were held across several DUT campuses throughout the first semester. The main purpose of these activations was to partner with students in finding new and innovative ways to improve awareness among other young people. Being that we were working with upcoming professionals, students got to be aware of the different strains of HIV and also encourage safe sex for those students who are sexually active.

One of the students who participated in the event said that “this is a very good project to be involved in, it is also very informative, I didn’t know how to properly put on a condom, now I can.” Condom demonstrations were also part of programme for the day. Students were shown the proper way to put on condoms.

During these projects the students were also asked to get tested and they should know their status, the Biotech students had also partnered with the ISOLEMPILO clinic in Steve Biko campus. These projects were a huge success because a lot of students participated in the events The Biotech student also focused on TB in which students were asked to check for TB, the students who participated said that this kind of events were very important in for them because they were not aware of how easily one can contact TB.

The HIV/AIDS Centre will continue supporting these kinds of projects which help DUT students be aware of HIV/AIDS. During the month of April and May the DUT HIV/AIDS centre distributed 6900 condoms and 1500 lubricants so that students who are sexually active can be safe.

 

Know Your Epidemic Report 2011

This report is an abridged version of a more detailed report of the Know Your Epidemic (KYE) and Know Your Response (KYR) study which was done and commissioned by the South African Government and coordinated by the World Bank and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The purpose of this work is to assist South Africa in improving its HIV-prevention response, which will be part of a major component of the National HIV Strategic Plan (NSP) 2012–2016: Know Your Epidemic Report