SOUTH AFRICA: Huge campus HIV study underway

South Africa's universities have no idea how many of their students and staff are infected with HIV-AIDS - and this scares them, reports The Star. The country's 23 public universities believe that because they do not know how many of their students are affected by the virus, they do not know if the programmes they have in place to deal with the epidemic are adequate. Earlier this month, the Higher Education HIV-Aids Programme (HEAIDS) embarked on one of the biggest HIV prevalence studies ever undertaken in South Africa.

The study is taking place at every university in an effort to get an in-depth picture of HIV infections by sampling 25,000 randomly selected students and staff. Not only will the HEAIDS study gauge HIV infection at higher education institutions, it also aims to establish the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and behaviour the students and staff possess of the disease.

The study, which began at Stellenbosch University earlier this month, is being funded by the European Union to the tune of EUR20-million (R220-million). Head of the research team, Dr Mark Colvin, said by sampling 25,000 people they would be able to get a reliable picture of HIV prevalence around campuses across the country.

Researchers would randomly sample clusters at each institution and every person sampled will have to fill out a questionnaire and a "dry spot" of their blood would be taken and linked to the questionnaire. Nobody would be required to give their names. From this, they would be able to establish a person's knowledge of HIV against their status.
Full report on The Star site