UKZN HIV and AIDS Programme Members Deliver Presentations at Soweto Conference
Staff members of UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme, including its Head Ms Nomonde Magantolo, delivered presentations at the 2nd Southern African Regional Students and Youth Conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SARSYC) hosted by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on its Soweto campus.
The conference was titled: Building a Business Case for a Solid Future: Promoting Access to Youth Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Commodities.
The primary focus of the conference was on Sexual and Reproductive Health which encompassed a plethora of areas including Sexual Health, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS, ‘Blessers and Sponsors’, Stigma and Discrimination, Abortion, Sexual Determinants, LGBTIQ, and Gender-Based Violence.
The area of Sexual and Reproductive Health remains a critical one in South Africa and other African countries and the conference thus attracted delegates from Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, among others.
Accompanying Magantolo to the conference were Dr Sachin Suknunan of the Student Services Division, who handles the research arm for the HIV and AIDS Programme, and student peer educators.
The UKZN team delivered two presentations. The first detailed results of an action-research study conducted by the Programme. The study examined perceptions and beliefs of students in relation to HIV and AIDS transmission and ways in which a student’s attitude, mindset and behaviour can be influenced through awareness programmes as a means to encourage more HIV testing and HIV prevention.
This tied in with the new UNAIDS 90 90 90 strategy for ending HIV and AIDS by 2030.
The plenary session for Day three of the conference was given by UKZN and the team presented a Best Practice Model which could be applied in a Higher Education setting. This model was seen as a strategic response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic, taking into account KwaZulu-Natal being the HIV epicentre of the world.
The model consists of various key constructs including Social/Behavioural, Clinical, Research, Technological and the central dependant construct of Knowledge. Delegates were captivated by this model and its dynamism which stimulated thought-provoking discussions and feedback.
Delegates were entertained with activities such as a gala dinner event and a tour of Soweto and its historic sites.
The next SARSYC conference takes place in Zambia in 2019 and the conference committee is looking at UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme as a possible partner.
Words by: Thembani Ntobeko Khumalo