In 2008/9, the Higher Education AIDS Programme (HEAIDS) conducted a national survey at 21 of the 22 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in South Africa to determine the prevalence of HIV infection among staff and students. Blood was obtained following informed consent (without personal identifiers), by finger prick from 1 317 staff and students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and tested using standard laboratory tests to determine HIV status.
The overall HIV prevalence among staff and students at UKZN was 2.8 percent. Based on the stratified prevalence rates, it is estimated that there are about 675 students, 15 academic staff and 240 admin / service staff living with HIV at UKZN. At UKZN, HIV prevalence was slightly higher in women than men (3.1 percent vs 2.6 percent); a trend that was consistent across all institutions surveyed.
The overall HIV prevalence in UKZN students is marginally lower than the national student HIV prevalence of 3.4 percent overall. HIV prevalence was highest among UKZN service level staff at 16.3 percent and lowest among UKZN academic staff at 1.0 percent. While the sample sizes used to determine these prevalence rates were small, these rates are not unexpected as HIV prevalence rates can differ markedly across educational levels and social class strata.
With respect to knowledge of HIV status, a total of 40 percent of the individuals surveyed at UKZN had ever had an HIV test, of which 72 percent had been tested in the year prior to the survey and 54 percent had their test at UKZN. About a quarter of the respondents had attended a meeting or function about HIV/AIDS at UKZN in the year prior to the survey. Most (73 percent) of respondents knew of a place at UKZN where they could go for help and support if they were discovered to be HIV positive and 54 percent believed that management at UKZN take HIV /AIDS seriously.
The UKZN HIV survey report, provides several recommendations. The results of the survey as well as the recommendations which have been presented to Senate and Council and are now being reviewed by the University AIDS Committee and appropriate next steps are being planned to address the shortcomings identified.
For more information, refer to www.ukzn.ac.za/docs/reports/ukzn-hiv-survey-report.pdf?sfvrsn=0.