UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme hosted a year-end event to recognise and congratulate peer educators, staff, and internal and external stakeholders for their excellent work this year.
The event was marked by diverse creativity, educational entertainment, and performances by peer educators from all five campuses.
Peer educators form the backbone of the Programme being change agents who are involved in all the awareness campaigns and outreach programmes - HIV and AIDS; Anti-Drug and Substance Abuse; Gender Based Violence, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Sensitisation - throughout the year.
The function was attended by stakeholders and representatives of UKZN’s Department of Student Residence Affairs and Campus Health Services, the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme and the eThekwini District AIDS Council.
UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, Ms Nomonde Magantolo, thanked stakeholders for their continued support. Peer educators had an opportunity to share their success stories, leadership and facilitation skills learned, and personal growth in risk reduction since joining the peer education programme. They also had an opportunity to participate in a Mr & Miss Graduate Alive Contest, promoting making smart choices and responsible behaviour.
The Graduate Alive campaign, a national annual initiative, is aimed at inspiring and empowering students through various risk reduction mechanisms to graduate alive irrespective of their HIV status and further encourages them to make healthy life choices.
UKZN’s 2016/2017 Graduate Alive winners were Mr Siyabonga Shongwe of the Medical School and Pietermaritzburg campus student Miss Sphiwakahle Dludla.
Magantolo congratulated the winners and reminded them of their social responsibility to their fellow students and that their role, among others, was to advocate and promote healthy lifestyle practices.
Former peer educator and now a teacher, Ms Nokuthula Zondi, gave testimony on how peer education transformed her life enabling her to work with a range of people at different levels. She encouraged her peers to impart the knowledge they have gained to their fellow students, families and communities.
Certificates of appreciation were handed out to peer educators in recognition of their outstanding contribution in the fight against the spread of HIV.
The following is a summary of some of the work done during the year by the UKZN HIV and AIDS Programme:
· 8 642 HIV Tests; 96 medical male circumcision procedures; 45 Campaigns rolled out reaching 16 796 people; 37 group discussion/dialogues/residence visits reaching 2 797 people and 2 148 276 condoms distributed
· 25 438 students and staff participated in the HIV and AIDS programme through awareness campaigns and HIV testing
· Extensive stakeholder collaboration with government department, NGOs and Civil Society
· Sustainable Peer Education Forums and Support groups (LGBTI, women, men, positive living, and abstinence groups)
· Anti-Retroviral Treatment initiation from the PMB Campus Health Clinic
· Launch of Anti-Drug and Substance Abuse Initiative
· Launch of UKZN implementation of the 90-90-90 UNAIDS 2020 targets to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030
· Community outreach at schools in informal settlements, prisons, children’s homes and participation in the provincial and district AIDS Council.