South African Teachers’ Unions Launch Pilot Program Training Teachers To Fight HIV/AIDS, Seek Testing and Treatment
Four South African teachers' unions joined U.S. and South African partners on Tuesday to launch a two-year pilot project that aims to combine peer education, HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment for teachers in three provinces in the country, allAfrica.com reports. The project, called Prevention, Care and Treatment Access for South African Educators, aims to train 7,500 peer educators and provide antiretroviral treatment to 2,300 teachers and their spouses in South Africa's Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mpumalanga provinces (McElligott, allAfrica.com, 10/4). More than 4,000 South African teachers died of HIV/AIDS-related complications in 2004, and 12.7% of the teacher work force in South Africa -- about 45,000 people -- are HIV-positive, according to a survey released in March by the Human Sciences Research Council. The survey -- which was commissioned by the Education Labour Relations Council and is titled "Study of Demand and Supply of Educators in South African Public Schools" -- also found that about 80% of teachers who died of HIV/AIDS-related complications were younger than age 45 and about 33.6% were between the ages of 25 and 34 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/4). "We have to move beyond the red ribbon," Willy Masdisha, president of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union, said, adding, "A silent war is raging -- many of our teachers die silently" (SAPA/Independent Online, 10/4).
Pilot Program Details, Sponsors
About 15,000 union school representatives will conduct training in the three provinces on fighting stigma in the workplace, supporting healthy living, advancing prevention education, and encouraging HIV testing and treatment. SADTU, the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa, the National Teachers Union and the South African Teachers' Union will implement the program, with funding from the American Federation of Teachers' Africa AIDS Campaign and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Modisane, BuaNews, 10/4). Through CDC, PEPFAR will spend at least $1.9 million for the program and $1.5 million to provide antiretroviral treatment for the teachers and their spouses (allAfrica.com, 10/4). Antiretroviral treatment will be provided by physicians from the South African Medical Association's Tshepang Trust (BuaNews, 10/4). Additional partners in the program include the Solidarity Center and the Academy for Educational Development (allAfrica.com, 10/4).