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Initiative to alleviate effect of AIDS on education
Saturday 14 May 2005
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SOUTH AFRICA: Initiative to alleviate effect of AIDS on education

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

©  MSF

HIV-positive teachers thrown life-line

JOHANNESBURG, 7 April (PLUSNEWS) - A group of eight South African and international NGOs are collaborating on a new programme to tackle the impact of HIV/AIDS on the education sector, after recent research showed that the pandemic was claiming the lives of 11 teachers daily.

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) surveyed a nationally representative sample of 17,088 teachers at 1,700 schools and found that most of the affected teachers were aged between 25 and 44.

The director of the new 'Prevention, Care and Treatment Access' (PCTA) programme, Khanyisile Mdziniso-Zwane, told Plusnews that stigma was one of the factors contributing to the high prevalence and death rates recorded by HSRC, as it prevented teachers from gaining access to HIV testing, antiretrovirals (ARVs) and regular monitoring available through their medical aid schemes.

"It takes great courage to follow through on a decision to get tested for HIV, and could prove especially burdensome for teachers, who are usually viewed as not only educators of children, but role models too," Mdziniso-Zwane pointed out.

US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has pledged US $3.8 million over two years to PCTA, with which the initiative hopes to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on South Africa's education sector.

It was estimated that close to 13 percent of educators are living with the HI virus, while 4,000 had died of AIDS-related illnesses last year.

PCTA targets are specific and include the prevention of 70,000 new HIV infections, with direct provision of ARVs to at least 1,000 infected teachers and their family members.

The programme will be implemented in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, which are identified in the study as having the highest sero-prevelances.

"Teachers and family members who test HIV-positive need only display the required CD4 (immune cell count) to qualify for immediate ARV treatment through the PCTA programme," said Mdziniso-Zwane.

Although set to run for two years, there are prospects of additional funding to extend the programme to five years if the initial targets are achieved.

Some $1.9 million of the PEPFAR pledge has already been allocated to the first year of PCTA activities.

"The relevant parties will be able to access the programme benefits as soon as a memo of agreement - reviewing the roles of participating organisations - has been finalised," Mdziniso-Zwane confirmed.


Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
Blockbuster film benefits AIDS orphans,  13/May/05
Controversial claims for vitamins undermine ARV rollout,  13/May/05
Reaching church leaders and congregations ,  11/May/05
Doctors ask govt to boost ARV access for HIV-positive kids,  9/May/05
Project empowers rural communities to shape own HIV/AIDS programmes,  3/May/05
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Mothers and HIV/AIDS

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