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:
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.
The activities of the office include:
• Promoting the integration of HIV and AIDS in the curriculum
• Developing and reviewing the University’s HIV and AIDS policy
• Promoting translational research
• Promoting HIV counseling and testing
• Developing peer education for students and staff
• Participation in HIV and AIDS related community projects
Some faculties have succeeded in developing core modules on HIV and AIDS that are offered across the faculties. The aim is to have a universal module that would be offered to all students. The HIV and AIDS Policy that was developed in 2002 is currently under review. A research interest group has been formed with an aim of promoting translational research among the natural science researchers and social science researchers.
There is a student peer education programme which upholds the principles of the “Rutanang” model. Students are invited to participate in the programme and have to go through selection as they need to meet a specific criterion that is determined by the HIV & AIDS Committee. Students receive training in basic information on HIV and AIDS and also on facilitation skills. They are then assisted in planning for their weekly activities and are provided with a peer educator manual. The peer education programme is monitored through the use of a portfolio management system.
The University of Zululand is involved in a number of linkages with international institutions. The linkage with the University of Michigan has brought a unique aspect or element in the peer education programme. Peer Educators have been trained in the oral methodology for HIV prevention. The methodology was propounded by Dr Nesha Haniff (Director, Africa American students at University of Michigan (UMICH). Students at the University of Zululand have since translated the module into vernacular IsiZulu and are using it in educating not only their peers on campus but also members of the neighboring communities.
Student peer educators have also participated in the South African Students Volunteer Organization (SASVO) Camps. The experiences gained from these camps was used in community outreach programmes.
Communication campaigns are one of the means that are used to promote HIV counseling and testing. These include the STI/ Condom Week which has been dubbed the “Valentine’s Week”, the Memorial Candle-lighting Day, the HIV/AIDS Week and the International World AIDS Day. During the campaigns, peer educators display quilts, posters, pamphlets and the University’s HIV/AIDS Policy Document at strategic points, in order to reach out to as many individuals as possible. Sometimes the University invites activists who can share their life stories. These include Musa Njoko. Director for Khanya AIDS Interventions Ms Phumzile Zondi, the Director for Christian Education at JL Zwane Centre in Cape Town who is also a member of the International Community of Women living with HIV ( ICW) and African Network for Religious Leaders Living with HIV and AIDS ( ANERELA), Ms Marcia Mazibuko Provincial coordinator of KZN NAPWA and Ms Criselda Kanada Managing Director for Positive Living. There is usually a remarkable increase in the number of persons testing for HIV immediately after a campaign.
The University of Zululand has a good relationship with the United States Consulate with the latter providing resource material. A documentary titled “A Closer Walk” is one resource thathas motivated individuals to test as it portrays human confrontation with HIV/AIDS globally. The US Consulate usually brings American activists who might be on tour in South Africa. Through such visits, the University of Zululand community has benefited from persons like Mr. Jesse Milan. The highlight for 2007 was a visit by Marvelyn Brown, a Tennessean young woman who was infected while she was a University student. She is now a CEO of the Marvelous Connection, and is involved in HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns.
The Programme Manager is Dr. Zethu Mkhize. The Office is located in the Administration Building, Office B6. Her contact details are:
She is supported by the HIV & AIDS Committee of Council which performs an advisory role.
The members of the Committee are:
|Dr. JD Adams||Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Psychology|
|Dr. BC Khuzwayo||Head, Centre for Language Research|
|Dr. BN Vilakazi||Manager, Campus Health Clinic|
|Dr. MM Hlongwane||Dean of Students|
|Dr. NJ Dlamini||Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing Science|
|Mrs. T. J Mdletshe||Lecturer, Department of Nursing|
|Mrs. V. Mntambo||Lecturer, Industrial Psychology|
|Mr. DBX Makhathini||Union Representative|
|Mr. S.S.S. Sibisi||Human Capital Division|