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CCMS Students Re-emphasise Need for HIV Prevention at AIDS Conference

June 30, 2017

Students who presented their research at this year’s Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) Youth Conference and 8th SA AIDS Conference.
Three UKZN Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) students presented their research at high profile conferences in South Africa.

PhD student Ms Yonela Vukapi presented at the 8th SA AIDS Conference 2017, while her colleagues - Ms Nqobile Ndzinisa and Ms Phiwe Nota -presented at the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) Youth Conference.

The theme of the 8th SA AIDS conference was ‘long walk to freedom’. Delegates from all over South Africa and other parts of the world joined together to share and strategise on what is currently happening within the HIV prevention field.

Key populations such as young women and adolescent girls (AGYW) were the focus of the majority of the researchers and presenters at the conference. The main aim is to reach women between the ages of 15 and 24 with interventions that will engage them, are context specific and translate to the reduction of risky sexual behaviours.

Ms Yonela Vukapi presented her PhD study titled: User-driven Youth-Friendly Services – a Gateway to Adherence and Uptake of Oral PrEP Truvada for Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Vulindlela, South Africa.

The theme of the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) conference was: Ukuhlonyiswa Kwabasha - Empowering our Youth in South Africa - Sharing Innovative Practices Towards Health Education, Health Promotion, Knowledge Generation and Capacity Building Amongst Our Youth Within the Post School Sector.

With the above theme in mind, Masters student Ms Nqobile Ndinisa presented a poster on a study titled : Demystifying the Epidemic: Understanding Educated Perceptions of Zulu Cultural Beliefs about HIV and AIDS Communication and Treatment-Seeking Options at Howard College, University of KwaZulu–Natal.

Ndzinisa said: ‘I was hoping to meet and engage with experts and fellow colleagues on the issues affecting young people in the Health Communication field. It was also my first time presenting at such a big platform so it gave me an opportunity to present findings of my study and discussing them with people outside my department. It was great to get feedback on the work that I did.’

PhD candidate Ms Phiwe Nota presented her work titled: An Exploration into the Social Cultural Factors to Oral Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Uptake and Possibilities for Integration into Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) Services in KZN for Young Women. 

Said Nota: ‘It is becoming critical to place young people at the centre of the HIV and AIDS response in a meaningful way. This is what my study suggests, also emphasising culture as a key to developing contextually relevant HIV prevention methods’.

Vukapi added: ‘I learned so much from other presenters who explored other areas that could enhance HIV prevention among AGYW, such as the importance of integrating stakeholders such as the Department of Education and the Department of Social Development to come together against the spread of HIV among young women. Other interesting studies were interrogating the role of men in the spread of HIV among AGYW – looking at the concept of sugar daddies, now commonly known as ‘blessers’.  

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