The HIV & AIDS Programme was incepted in 2003 through TELP (Tertiary Education Linkages Programme) funding. The United States Agency for Institutional Development had made a call for proposals for institution-wide projects on HIV and AIDS. The aim was to offer support to institutions of higher learning towards mitigating the spread of HIV and AIDS on campuses. The University of Zululand was one of the seven institutions of higher learning that were successful in securing the funding hence the Project Implementation Letter ( PIL 165 ) was awarded.

It was through this funding that the University of Zululand was able to: 

  • establish an HIV counseling and testing site
  • establish a student peer education
  • train members of staff as HIV & AIDS counselors
  • embark on mass communication campaigns
  • develop material that could be used during campaigns

The HIV counseling and testing site (which is up and running) was established with the support of the Department of Health. The Department of Health provides test kits and has since provided two HIV & AIDS counselors who are on secondment.

The University’s Executive Management approved that Dr. Zethu Mkhize be seconded as Project Manager. The reason being that she had led the Proposal Writing Team. The launch of the Project on 16 June 2004 saw the Proposal Writing Team transforming into a Project Implementation Team. It was deliberate for the launch to coincide with the Youth Day. The rationale being that the majority of the beneficiaries of the Project were the youth (i.e. students).

The Project Launch was a spectacular event and the attendance reflected the success that the Project Implementation Team has made towards networking with the corporate sector. This includes BHP Billiton and the uThungulu Community Foundation.

The process of proposal writing had coincided with the process of developing a University’s HIV & AIDS Policy. This meant that there was a need for strong interfacing between the two structures. This was not a hassle since some members belonged to both structures. It was agreed that the Project Implementation Team would have to ensure the implementation of the policy. The two structures have since merged to constitute the University’s HIV & AIDS Committee of Council.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has defined the challenge posed by HIV and AIDS to the higher education sub-sector. In response to the challenge, a nationally coordinated programme has been developed with an aim of strengthening the capacity of South African higher education institutions to respond to the causes and consequences of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Much as the programme is an initiative of the Department of Higher Education and Training, it is effectively owned by the institutions. The University of Zululand recognizes that HIV and AIDS is not merely a health issue but a development issue that concerns the entire community. It is therefore committed to playing an active role in mitigating the impact of the epidemic both on its own constituency of staff and students and on society as a whole.

The University has set up a Unit for the HIV & AIDS programmes whose vision is:

To create a working and learning environment that is supportive, sensitive and responsive to employees and students living with HIV/AIDS and that encourages employees and students to adopt positive and healthy lifestyles thus taking personal responsibility for preventing the further spread of HIV.