The Africa Centre for HIV and AIDS Management was established at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2003 to nourish the social, political and economic transformation required to defeat the pandemic.
“The fight against HIV and AIDS is far from over,” says the Centre’s director, Prof Jan du Toit.
HIV/AIDS is a global threat, but some regions are worse off than others. According to UNAIDS, the United Nations’ Aids organisation, two thirds of the 33 million people living with the disease worldwide are from Africa south of the Sahara, and the continent has an estimated 14 million Aids orphans.
Research is one of the pillars of the Centre, and HIV and AIDS in the workplace is a central theme. The Centre offers comprehensive HIV and AIDS academic training programmes, which include the Postgraduate Diploma in HIV and AIDS Management (PDM), as well as a MPhil programme. The aim is to empower people to take control of the pandemic. The Centre has awarded more than 1 500 postgraduate diplomas to students from 45 countries over the last decade. This is the biggest programme of its kind in the world and the reason why it’s so popular is because it delivers relevant content.
The Centre runs a community mobilisation programme under the leadership of well-known singer Jimmie Earl Perry, the first UNAIDS National Goodwill Ambassador to South Africa. Interactive educational theatre is used to create awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention. Over 200 000 people have seen the Centre’s first production, Lucky the Hero!, over the past four years. Of the 200 000, more than 70% now know their HIV status after having seen the production. It was initially aimed at farm workers in the Western Cape, but has since expanded to include the private and public sectors of South Africa and Namibia. A similar production, Lucky Fish!, has been tailor-made for the corporate sector.
The Centre has been a collaborative partner of UNAIDS on capacity building, community mobilisation and research dissemination. Other partners include British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a non-profit fundraising organisation based in New York, the New Apostolic Church of the Western Cape and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). In May 2011, the Centre hosted an international conference in collaboration with UNAIDS in Stellenbosch on how social media can be used to spread the message of AIDS prevention.
In May 2012, the Centre moved into its new modern building in Joubert Street, Stellenbosch. This R16-million building was built to accommodate the increasing number of activities of the Centre’s HIV and AIDS projects. With its new facilities, the Centre can deliver an even better service. The double-storey building has ten offices and two open-plan offices which can accommodate ten staff members. There are also a spacious kitchen, boardroom, as well as a rehearsal room for the actors of the Centre’s educational plays.