Lim­popo univer­sity launches anti-HIV pill

Stats re­veal preva­lence of un­pro­tected sex

Sowetan - - News - By Zoë Ma­hopo ■ ma­hopoz@sowe­tan.co.za

Fig­ures from a stu­dent health cen­tre at the Univer­sity of Lim­popo have re­vealed a wor­ry­ing trend of stu­dents en­gag­ing in risky sex­ual be­hav­iour.

The univer­sity in Mankweng, out­side Polok­wane, has be­come the first in the province to roll out Tru­vada, an an­tiretro­vi­ral which is meant to pre­vent HIV in­fec­tion.

The roll-out is part of a na­tion­wide ini­tia­tive by the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing HIV/Aids pro­gramme (HEAIDS) at seven uni­ver­si­ties.

The univer­sity’s direc­tor of the health and well­ness cen­tre, Nor­man Lete­bele, said the statis­tics were wor­ry­ing.

He said since Jan­uary, 98 stu­dents have come to the cen­tre to ask for abor­tions.

“What does that tell you? It tells you that peo­ple are prac­tic­ing un­pro­tected sex which is dan­ger­ous,” he said.

Lete­bele said 98 was the tip of the ice­berg as it did not in­clude stu­dents who went to health fa­cil­i­ties out­side cam­pus.

He said there was also a rise in the num­ber of STIs and new HIV in­fec­tions.

“If pos­si­ble, we want to reach every stu­dent who is at risk of in­fec­tion,” he said.

He said at the mo­ment only one stu­dent had started tak­ing the drug while 10 oth­ers had com­pleted the pre-coun­selling phase.

Lete­bele said the roll-out was still slow due to ex­am­i­na­tions, how­ever they were try­ing to reach stu­dents through word of mouth and lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions.

He said Tru­vada was needed to pre­vent HIV in­fec­tion but warned that peo­ple must also con­tinue to use con­doms as the drug does not pre­vent STIs.

Given Mam­abolo, a Masters of Law stu­dent who is the first UL stu­dent to start tak­ing the drug, said he de­cided to get in­volved af­ter a nurse ex­plained the process to him.

Mam­abolo said tak­ing the pill did not mean that he would start en­gag­ing in reck­less be­hav­iour.

He said he also hoped that his de­ci­sion to start us­ing the med­i­ca­tion would en­cour­age other stu­dents to con­sider it as a pre­ven­ta­tive method. He said it was also im­por­tant for peo­ple to un­der­stand that they first have to test neg­a­tive be­fore us­ing the pill.

Spokesman at the pro­vin­cial health depart­ment Thabiso Teffo said they wel­comed the ini­tia­tive.

/AN­TO­NIO MUCHAVE

Given Mam­abolo

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