The Wits Campus Health and Wellness Centre (CHWC) says it has seen an increase of over 50% in the number of students coming to the centre to test for HIV/Aids in the last three years.

Acting head of CHWC Sister Maggie Moloi said that since January to mid-April this year alone 695 students have tested for HIV.

She added that this number is likely to increase due to voluntary testing programmes that CHWC is currently running across all Wits campuses.

“We have partnered with Higher Education and Training HIV/Aids Programme to encourage students to come test for HIV, more especially because April is World Health Month.
“We want to teach students to take responsibilities when they engage in sexual activities, to always protect themselves,” Moloi said.

Moloi added that the number of females that come to the centre to test for HIV is higher than that of males.

“We are taking the initiative to go to male residences to encourage them to visit our centre and test for HIV/Aids.”
Moloi said the CHWC is offering free male medical circumcisions to students as part of Operation Wise-Up.

“Research has shown that circumcised men stand less chance of contracting HIV compared to those who are not circumcised,” she said.

Lucky Tshabalala (21), third-year BA general, said that he has never tested for HIV before and he doesn’t think he will do it anytime soon.

“It’s scary. I don’t know what I would do if I found out that I have HIV. Maybe one day I’ll do the test but not anytime soon. I try to always use the condom but sometime when I am drunk I forget,” he said.
A nurse at CHWC, Sister Sylvia Mashaba, said that more still needs to be done to educate students to test for HIV/Aids regularly, especially if they are sexually active.

“Being HIV positive is not the end of the world. We still have students who think they can’t be infected with HIV … Anyone who engages in risky sexual behaviour can be infected by HIV,” Mashaba added.

Moloi said the CHWC is currently in the process of applying for accreditation to roll-out pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill that reduces chances of contracting HIV, to students at Wits University.