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IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS News and information service | Southern Africa | SOUTH AFRICA: Initiative to alleviate effect of AIDS on education | Care Treatment | News Items
Monday 31 October 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.

[ENDS]




 
Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
NAPWA partners with controversial Rath Foundation,  20/Oct/05
Trials test efficacy of diaphragms in preventing HIV/AIDS,  26/Sep/05
Churchmen move towards disclosing their HIV-positive status,  23/Sep/05
New effort to ease community's HIV/AIDS woes,  16/Sep/05
Live theatre shows both positive and negative side of HIV/AIDS,  13/Sep/05
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