R28m project to fight HIV/Aids

A two-year pilot project was launched last month to tackle the high rate of HIV and Aids among South Africas teachers.

The project is a joint initiative by the teacher unions, with additional funding from foreign donors.

About R28-million will go into the project.

A recent study of HIV prevalence among educators conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) was an important catalyst for the action. According to the HSRCs research, about 4 000 teachers died last year of Aids-related complications, and 12,7% are HIV-positive.

The three provinces identified in the study as having the highest infection rates - KwaZulu-Natal,Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape - are being singled out for immediate action, with 7 500 school representatives set to go through training to fight stigma in the workplace; extend prevention education; promote healthy living; and encourage HIV testing and treatment.

In addition, private physicians, recruited and trained by the South African Medical Associations Tshepang Trust, will provide anti-retroviraltreatment to 2 300 teachers and their spouses, following the guidelines of the national Department of Health.

If successful, the project may be extended to other provinces.

The HSRC study found that infection rates among teachers were 21,8% in KwaZulu- Natal, 19,1% in Mpumalanga and 13,8% in the Eastern Cape.

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