1 December 2011
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has called on young South Africans leaving school and those in the country’s colleges and universities to get tested for HIV/Aids.
Speaking ahead of World Aids Day on Wednesday, Nzimande said young people should ensure they were well informed about the pandemic and avoid exposing themselves to the risks of contracting the virus.
“I particularly want to call upon those who are about to start at institutions of higher learning, who will for the first time in their lives be independent and away from direct parental supervision, to get information and knowledge so that they may behave in a way that does not expose them to the risk of contracting HIV.”
World Aids Day serves as an important reminder to all South Africans that HIV/Aids has not gone away. There is still a vital need to increase awareness, strengthen support and improve education.
The Department of Higher Education and Training has made a commitment to incorporate the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic in all its skills development initiatives at colleges and universities.
A study released by the Higher Education and HIV/Aids Programme (HEAIDS) last year revealed that, among students who reported having had sex, HIV prevalence was about 4 percent.
The study was conducted two years ago using a sample of 17 000 students, 1 880 academic staff and 4 433 administrative and services staff.
“We have incorporated the fight against this pandemic simply because as a country, we cannot afford to train our youth and young adults for the grave,” Nzimande said.
“We need them for the workplace and effective participation in our society’s social and economic activities.”
Nzimande appealed to youngsters to delay involvement in sexual relationships. “However, those who choose to be sexually active should always use a condom, be faithful to their partner, and at all costs avoid multiple and concurrent sexual partners.”