School Learners Get To Talk About HIV/AIDS

School Learners Get To Talk About HIV/AIDS

Youth around the community of Merafong got to talk about HIV, its causes, prevention and treatment at the Merafong annual school debate staged at the beginning of August..

Dubbed "School Debate on social and Lifestyle issues" affecting the youth, the discussions among students were guided by messages drawn from the Scrutinize campaign that is being rolled-out by local health communications non-governmental organisation, Mothusimpilo Scrutinize is an HIV intervention campaign that targets youth in and out of school. This award winning campaign uses the power of mass media to concretise people about the issues that place them at risk of HIV.

The competition featured seven high schools and pitted them against one another in an attempt to increase knowledge about HIV infection. The schools included Badirile, Tswasongu, Relebogile, Thuto-Kitso, Imfundo, Wedela and Letsatsing School debates are being used as a platform to address the HIV epidemic and the behaviours that place young people at risk of HIV infection. This includes excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and inconsistent use of condoms.

The debate which lasted for a month was a highly contested affair   which saw Relebogile Secondary School taking home gold medals and the runners-up, Badirile Secondary School grabbing silver medals.

Moipone Ncakwana from Badirile Secondary smiled all the way to the stage to receive a gold award for the best speaker in the debate knock-out competition.

West Rand District Debate Adjudicator and educator , Mr. Fisher, who coordinates school debates in the area feels that the initiative is an eye opener to issues that people battle with on their daily lives, and should not only be a debate for Merafong schools, it must include all other West Rand District schools..

"we should create the environment for our kids to talk about issues that they face as young people. This is one of those platforms that young people find a space and openly air their views on issues of HIV , alcohol and sex.

Mothusimpilo project  manager,  Zodwa Mzaidume who was part of the organising team hailed the schools for heeding to a call and allowed their learners to participate on the knock-out debate competition.

"The school debate is one of many initiatives that Mothusimpilo uses to educate the locals about HIV particularly youth in school"
Mothusimpilo is funded by USAID through Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa.

About Scrutinize

Scrutinize is a public health campaign which encourages the Youth to "scrutinize" or understand their risk of HIV infection in relation to multiple concurrent partners, correct and consistent condom use, transactional sex (sex for money), intergenerational sex (sugar daddies) and alcohol use.

Scrutinize is a national campaign being undertaken by the JHU Program in South Africa and funded by USAID/PEPFAR.