First Things First Campaign
First Things First HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign on the Howard College campus was well supported by staff and students.
The campaign is a national initiative aimed to assist mainly first-year students to adapt to the culture of knowing their HIV status on entering university and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. First years are targeted because they have entered a new environment that requires them to be responsible in the face of HIV risk factors, including unprotected sex and alcohol and substance abuse.
The campaign was held in partnership with DOH district, DramAide, Campus Health Clinic, various stakeholders and was supported by HEAIDS.
More than 1 000 students and academic, administrative and service staff were tested within the first week. Over 500 were first-year students.
As part of the testing programme, participants received pre and post-test counselling as well as STI and TB screening. The campaign included distribution of educational pamphlets and female and male condoms. Each person tested received a USB memory stick loaded with information about HIV/AIDS.
Campaign participants and supporters were also encouraged to sign a pledge wall committing themselves to know their status (through ongoing testing) to stop HIV stigma and contribute to the struggle against HIV/AIDS.
The Campaign continues on all other campuses over the next few weeks.