'Issues' holding back school HIV tests

2011-12-27 20:05

Johannesburg - A number of issues remained unresolved before the HIV testing of pupils could start during the first school term of 2012, said the Basic Education Ministry on Tuesday.

"[Minister Angie Motshekga] is still in talks with the department of health. There is a task team between the two departments and they are busy coming up with a framework of how it is going to work," said ministerial spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe.

She said an exact date for the programme's implementation could thus not yet be determined.

"We are dealing with very young people and there is a lot of counselling needed before and after... We don't have the capacity to do [testing]... Our teachers are not trained health professionals," she said.

Mokgatlhe said the question of funding and resources had to be dealt with by the task team.

"We need to find where the resources are going to come from. We need to establish the number of nurses we are going to need and where they are going to come from.

"The discussion should be around schools... Are they the ideal environment to test for HIV? If a learner tests, we would like them to have the privacy they deserve," she said.

Mokgatlhe said Motshekga "supports the idea of learners being tested" but that learners "should continue their testing in clinics".

The plans for a school-based HIV counselling and testing (HCT) programme has been on the cards for the last year.

Speaking in January, health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the testing would be voluntary.

He was not available for comment on Tuesday.

  • ubhejane - 2011-12-27 20:11

    We don't have the luxury to drag our feet about this issue. This is where our problems start. With the learners who are becoming sexually active. This should be implemented as soon as possible so we can stop this dreadful disease.

      Lephutsi - 2011-12-27 21:24

      I do not agree with you my friend. The testing of students will do more harm than good. We need school nurses in our schools like in other countries. Their role will be to deal with all students problems e.g advise on contraceptives, safe sex, healthy life style etc. If there is a need for HIV testing, the school nurse will refer the student to the local clinic for counselling and testing. This shows that people in power do not understand what they are doing or they lack knowledge about some of the issues in their departments.

      Daphne - 2011-12-27 21:29

      I agree - and I am VERY pleased with the impressive pro-active approach by Depts of Education & Health (VIVA!) But as a health care worker - I think it is just WRONG to load educators with this non-teaching task. Even for us very well trained staff it is VERY hard to deal with these youngsters who are victims of this dreadful disease. Where do we get parents and communities to take some of the burden?

      goyougoodthing - 2011-12-27 23:06

      It's not a desease it's a VIRUS which supposedly causes a SYNDROME which is ACQUIRED through your own behaviour.

      Irene - 2011-12-28 00:26

      Lephutsi ~ Prior to 1994 we did have nurses in schools .... along with teachers that were properly trained.

      Erena - 2011-12-29 17:04

      Lephutsi, there is no time for playing games with the lives of the youth. Its like the ladies telling me, the youth needs to abstain! I live in the real world, how long will it take to apoint school nurses? Our bigest problem is the social grants these young people are collecting like stamps.

  • Shoe - 2011-12-27 20:43

    This is yet another disastrous project in the making. First of all, who is going to provide 'active consent' for these children to be tested for HIV? How is this consent going to be gained? becuase if parents/guardian are to provide such consent then they are also to receive pre-and post- test conseling. Two, how is confidentiality and anonimity going to be mantained? Suppose a learner does NOT want to test, how is that going to be handled if the testing is done openly in full view of other learners. How are the learners going to be protected from the STIGMA associated with both testing or refusal to test. Third: Bullying and are learners going to be protected from this as they might easily be victimized to or not to test. Geez, does this Motshekga woman ever consult? When is she going to publish the cooked-up matric results anyway?

      Lynn - 2011-12-27 20:52

      @Shoe. I totally agree with you. I fully agree with knowing your status but do not think school is the right environment for this test. There are too many issues involved that school teachers are just not trained to deal with.

      Lephutsi - 2011-12-27 21:13

      @ Shoe I agree with you 100%. HIV testing should be done in clinics and hospitals and not in schools. I don't think they have even consulted all stake holders because they would have realised that their suggestion was ridiculous. HIV testing will cause more harm to our education system.

      bernpm - 2011-12-27 21:17

      100% agree with you! Lack of consent, no/little confidentiality followed by bullying.......formula for disaster specially in areas where HIV is prominent (poor, uneducated). Just get teachers and learning material in place.Ministers in ANC gov seem to like meddling in each other's portfolio, not so much in their own.

      Daphne - 2011-12-27 21:39

      Maybe you're right - how often do you work with these young people whose futures are destoyed by interupted education, poverty and lost opportunitues due to unplanned my experience those who are exposed to the education (overlaod of onfo if you like)are better equipped to cope with the stresses of peer pressure. AND - their hearts bleed for their friends who have lost their youoth too soon.

      Erena - 2011-12-29 17:09

      @shoe, while we are debating, young people are dying of this illness. If they can say yes to sex, they can say yes to testing. Nobody will force them, but this is a matter of the utmost importance. I live in a little town and are involved with a soup kitchen at the HIV/AIDS Clinic.The young people with this virus is growing at a rapid pace.

  • Lephutsi - 2011-12-27 21:01

    Why is the government obsessed with HIV Testing? We send our children to school to learn and not to be tested for HIV. The government should concentrate on how to improve out education system. Our children needs books, computers, and other learning materials and not HIV testing.

      Daphne - 2011-12-27 21:34

      The truth is that the children need to learn about "NO!!!" at home, about sexuality, about birth control, responsible parenting and ...... the list is endless. Government just CANNOT keep up with taking over the responsibility of parents. And with the monumental uncontrolled population growth - how do you think government must provide "all of the above" that you wnat?

      Shoe - 2011-12-27 21:50

      I absofuhkenlutely agree with you. HIV testing, is rather too complex an issue to be added to an already overwhelmed system such as the School system in SA. Perhaps the best structure to consult for guidance is the Health Professions Council of SA. They might offer some insights that the Minister is obviously lacking. She is the worst post apartheid education minister, by far this woman.

  • madmom1 - 2011-12-27 23:58

    @Lephutsi...are there any nurses in SA schools...not meant bad at all, are the teachers helping or are they absent

  • billidp - 2011-12-30 03:34

    I think that introducing HIV testing in schools is one of the worst ideas that the Education Dept has come up with, and I thought nthing could beat curriculum 2005.. oh wait, then we had OBE... the fallout from this kind of testing in schools is not gonna be good!!! Youngsters are already stressed, bullied and suicidal - what do you think this is going to do??

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