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Universities urged to teach HIV/AIDS awareness
Wednesday 23 March 2005
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AFRICA: Universities urged to teach HIV/AIDS awareness

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  University of the Western Cape

AIDS awareness poster at a South African university

ACCRA, 25 September (PLUSNEWS) - Education experts have suggested that HIV/AIDS awareness be integrated into the curriculum in African universities to reduce spiraling infection rates of the disease among students.

They told a conference of the Association of African Universities (AAU)in the Ghanaian capital, Accra on Wednesday that prevalance rates amongst students are usually higher than the national average. This is because most students are young, sexually active people aged 19 to 25.

"HIV/Aids has clearly affected the core business of tertiary institutions such as teaching and learning, research and management," Barnabas Otaala, a professor at the University of Namibia told the meeting.

Alice Lamptey, the coordinator of the AAU working group on HIV/AIDS and a member of the board of the United Nations AIDS programme (UNAIDS) said: "We need momentum like a river that carries everybody together."

Lamptey is heading a survey in the universities of sub-Saharan countries on HIV/AIDS.
She said: "We need policies and programmes to help break the silence and protect our children, because in Africa taboo and culture is still killing us."

The AAU said that at present HIV/AIDS control activities in African universities were "isolated."

The organisation is currently supporting HIV/AIDS awareness programmes in six universities and colleges with grants of US $10,000 each.

The beneficiaries are the University of Botswana, Nkumba University in Uganda, Mombasa Polytechnic in Kenya, Highridge College in Kenya, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in Rwanda and University of Lome in Togo.

The AAU said the programme at Highridge College had provided 20 HIV-positive students with a special diet to boost their immunity systems.

Ten more universities would be funded in 2004 and the US-based African American Institute was interested in supporting additional projects, it added.

The organisation began a three-day meeting in Accra on Tuesday to discuss declining academic standards in Africa's universities and colleges under the theme: "Improving tertiary Education in sub-saharan Africa. What can work."

The AAU is developing a tool kit on HIV/AIDS that will be posted on its website. The association said John Hopkins University in the United States had offered to sponsor the reproduction of the kit for distribution to all of its 172 members.


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