Immensely contributing towards addressing challenges around HIV/AIDS and youth, the Durban University of Technology HIV/AIDS Centre together with its peer educators formed part of the HEAIDS National Youth Conference.
Themed: “Ukuhlonyiswa Kwabasha” (Empowering our youth in South Africa) the HEAIDS National Youth Conference was attended by delegates from all over South Africa. DUT HIV/AIDS Centre was one of the teams that contributed in delivering uniqueness in discussions, exhibitions and presentations whilst focusing on good practices on HIV, STIs, TB general Health and wellness issues not only affecting students but that of the country’s core educational outcomes.
The three-day conference which was held from 9 June to 11 June 2017, was a platform for the different stakeholders to share innovative practices towards health education, health promotion, knowledge generation and capacity building amongst the youth within the post schools sector.
In his address at the conference, the Deputy Minister for Higher Education Mduduzi Manana said this conference was the first of its kind that brought together youth from schools, universities, colleges and out of school to share their experiences of working in the field of HIV and discuss their challenges and best practices. “I am proud to be standing in front of you today and say that it is the Higher Education and Training sector that is putting into practice the vision of bringing our youth together,” he said.
Furthermore, the deputy minister (Manana) highlighted that poverty was one of the biggest challenges facing students in higher education. “Many female students find themselves in financially unstable situations having to balance the fees for their education while finding funds to cover their accommodation and other living expenses. These students often take care of their families, as a large number of our graduates are the first one in their families to obtain a college or University degree,” said Manana.
He also reiterated that pressures do lead to vulnerable students to engage in sex work or relationships with older men to cover their study and living expenses. However, he urged all stakeholders and government not to fail the youth of the country.
DUT HIV/AIDS Centre Project Officer, Melusi Dlamini said the conference did not only offer a platform for them to empower other stakeholders with their ideas but also an opportunity to gather ideas and learn from other institutions educating on HIV/AIDS and LGBTI’s. “The conference was a great national platform for all universities to share their best practices and learn from each other. Most importantly, it provided an opportunity for students to be part of the conversation. This time, the students as the youth of this country were part of the dialogue which is something that hardly happens. Their contribution at the conference will greatly contribute to the policy formation.
We, as DUT had the opportunity to present a paper based on our Memeza Project (the Memeza projects is on creating safe spaces for vulnerable students particularly LGBTI students). We also had the opportunity to exhibit some of our work through poster presentations,” he said.
The DUT HIV/AIDS centre will also exhibit and hold a workshop at the upcoming National AIDS conference at the ICC, scheduled to take place from 13 June 2017 to 15 June 2017.
Pictured: Showcasing the DUT HIV/AIDS Centre Exhibition stand, at the conference.