Independant On-line, Make the right choice, Aids group tells teens, 28 January 2004

By Elize Jacobs

There is already a "cure" for HIV which requires no money or any clever scientists - it is called behavioural change.

As a result, institutions of higher learning are trying to not only educate students on academic matters, but are now also featuring behavioural decision-making as part of their curriculum.

Thousands of copies of Your Moves, a CD-Rom that deals with some of the complex life choices that young people face, are being distributed at all South African universities and technikons.

It has been developed by Higher Education HIV and Aids Programme (HEAIDS), backed by the South African University Vice-Chancellors Association and the Committee of Technikon Principals.

'Without behavioural change we risk Aids mutation'
The challenging and controversial CD-Rom is to become part of South Africa's comprehensive higher education sector strategy on HIV and Aids.

It will be shown at big screen events, as well as being part of psychology training and life skills development.

It will be available in libraries and clinics for individual student use.

Development of the CD-Rom involved input from experts and students in tertiary institutions. Using actors and situations students can expect to face, the CD-Rom encourages the user to make a choice which, in turn, displays a screen showing the likely consequences of such a choice.

At the end a risk assessment is given based on the choices the student or staff member made. A total of 7 000 copies of the CD-Rom are to be distributed to universities and technikons across the country.

'Most exposure to HIV is through high-risk behaviour'
The UN, in its 2003 report, noted that HIV infection in southern Africa was the highest in young people worldwide. South African department of health statistics show the highest rates of infection are in girls aged 13 to 19, followed by boys aged 16 to 25.

"Without behavioural change we risk Aids mutation through resistance to drugs and unprotected sex," said HEAIDS programme manager Barbara Michel.

"Without behaviour change we may render a future vaccine ineffective."

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has warned: "Most exposure to HIV is through high-risk behaviour. HEAIDS believes that inside each one of us we carry the cure for HIV/Aids - if we learn how to make the right decisions.

"HEAIDS works to prevent, manage and eliminate HIV infection. It also promotes care and support as well as learning and research, in tertiary institutions. South Africans are gifted at coming up with cutting-edge solutions. We believe we will display that in our efforts to safeguard our future. Your Moves is one such innovation," said Michel.

For more info on the HEAIDS programme, contact Barbara Michel on 012 481 2884 or 083 266 9158 or visit:

This article was originally published on page 4 of The Pretoria News on January 28, 2004




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