Quick Note: HIV Testing Days

THE CAMPUS Health and Wellness Centre (CHWC), which is based on the University’s East Campus, recently announced it will be having a number of days for HIV/Aids testing.
The centre, which will be working with other stakeholders such as New Start, is rolling out this project in line with the national health minister’s 90/90 strategy. The strategy aims to have 90 percent of people tested as well as 90 percent of those found to be HIV positive on treatment.
Sister Yvonne Matimba of Campus Health says it’s important that students become used to testing regularly, so that if there’s a need, students can receive the necessary support from Campus Wellness. So, look out on your campus for the counselling and testing stations and get tested so you know where you stand.
Some of the testing dates include:
04-08 April 2016
10-13 May 2016
19-22 July 2016
16-19 August 2016

WITH INFOGRAPHIC: Health science students in HIV exposure frustrated by ARV treatment protocols


FOLLOWING PROTOCOL IS IMPORTANT: A Wits student gets her blood tested for HIV at a testing campaign on Wits Education Campus earlier this year. Photo: Tracey Ruff

From lost blood test results to a lack of guidance about antiretroviral treatment (ARVs), the protocol after exposure to a potential HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) threat is both frustrating and time-consuming for some students.

Students at the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences are required to follow a strict protocol when accessing ARVs after an exposure to the virus in the course of their practical work.

“[Students] have to come to Campus Health for reporting purposes,”  explained Sister Yvonne Matimba of Campus Health. While students can access an ARV starter pack immediately after an exposure from the hospital in which they are working, further treatment can only be accessed through Campus Health located in the Matrix building on main campus.

The alternative is to pay for the treatment through a private health care provider.

“She didn’t really know what the protocol was and just gave me the pills and told me I had to make the decision”

However, as Krystle Moodley, a Wits dentistry graduate currently completing her community service year in Mpumulanga, said, “It sucks [going to Campus Health] if you’re at med school because you have to go all the way to [main] campus. How does that make sense?”

Moodley has been on ARVs twice. Her first time was in fourth year after she pricked herself with a needle.

Once she had reported the incident to Campus Health, her bloods were taken immediately and she was put on a 28-day ARV treatment regime. She then had to go back for a six-week, and three-month, blood test.

Missing results

After not receiving her results from her three-month blood test, Moodley phoned Campus Health and was informed her results had been lost. She then decided to go to a private doctor and had to pay about R150 to get her bloods done.

“No one [at Campus Health] bothered to tell me or bring me in to retake [my bloods].”

Counselling is also provided by Campus Health to the affected students.  However, according to Moodley, she feels that what she was told was information she had studied and already knew about.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: The Wits ARV treatment protocol. Graphic Tracy Ruff.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: What does ARV treatment involve? Graphic: Tracy Ruff.

A sixth-year medical student who did not want to be named, who has been on ARVs twice, has also expressed difficulties with the Campus Health process. “In terms of waiting times, [Campus Health] was good, but the sister (who was a new employee at the time) couldn’t give me advice on whether or not to take the ARVs, she said.

She didn’t really know what the protocol was and just gave me the pills and told me I had to make the decision.”

However, according to Matimba, all staff at Campus Health are adequately trained to deal with the protocol.

A Wits postgraduate student, who also did not want to be identified, said dealing with Campus Health after she received a needle-stick injury was “a  pleasure.”

“The nurses are friendly and extremely professional. They help you every step of the way.”

In need of more guidance

Students who fail to follow the protocol strictly are exempt from making any insurance claims according to the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Student Protection and Insurance booklet.

The booklet directs students to contact any of a number of doctors and staff members if an exposure occurs. There are also two additional emergency numbers provided. Wits Vuvuzela tried to reach an adviser via one of the numbers provided but was told that the staff member in question had left a few years ago.

The sixth-year medical student feels that students need to be given a card with the relevant protocol information that they can carry with them at all times. She also believes students should be informed about the ARV protocol properly at the beginning of their studies.

“They (lectures and doctors) should sit you down and tell you what to do.”

Protocol in the working world also frustrating

A Wits occupational therapy graduate, who asked not to be named, has recently completed her ARV treatment for HIV exposure outside of Wits.

“I had problems with the workman compensation procedures … so I went about paying for everything and thought I could claim back but turned out I couldn’t,” explained the graduate.

Moodley, who is now working for a public hospital, has just completed her 28-day ARV treatment. Describing her experience with the ARV protocol in the hospital she said, “it was kind of haphazard and no one knew what to do.”




It’s not easy to be sick at Wits

preferred photo-edited

WITS HEALTH: Welcome Selepe (3rd Year LLB Student) leaves Campus Health after receiving treatment. Photo: Rofhiwa Madzena

by Rofhiwa Madzena and Ilanit Chernick

You can get the services of a doctor at Wits if you have R400 for a consultation. This is as much as private health care.

There is nothing that can be done about the high cost of a doctor at Campus Health, Wits Vuvuzela was told this week. The university does not pay for the services of a doctor; it merely pays for the four nurses.
The Wits Campus Health Centre serves many students daily with limited resources, according to head of Campus Health, Sister Yvonne Matimba

[pullquote align=”right”]“We are not coping and Wits doesn’t charge [students] for health so they can’t invest [in it].”[/pullquote]

Meanwhile, students are adversely affected by the expensive cost of medical care because many of them don’t have medical aid and are unable to afford a private practitioner. The students complain that R400 is too much for their pockets.

For R50 at Campus Health, students have access to a nurse who provides basic services. Some of these services are free and include testing for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) but if it’s serious you can be referred to a public hospital where you can see a doctor for free.

Campus Health has inadequate resources, which prevents the hiring of an in-house doctor and only four nurses are available to deal with thousands of students every year – about 30 000. The doctor on campus is a private practitioner who only deals with students who can afford his services.

Education campus operates with one nurse who is at maximum capacity.

Matimba said, “We are not coping and Wits doesn’t charge [students] for health so they can’t invest [in it].”

She stated that a patient is treated in the clinic every 15 minutes and also clarified that the doctor on campus is not hired by Campus Health or the university. He simply rents the space.
Students who can’t afford to pay the nurses fee are still treated and it is charged to their student account, which is paid at the end of year.

She said that students can help deal with the influx by not playing pranks.
They often call for an emergency nurse on campus when there is no emergency. This disrupts the flow of services.

However, Campus Health is in the process of hiring an extra nurse to deal with the influx.

Campus Health slammed in report

Campus Health does not have a doctor on its staff, nor is its state of hygiene ideal, the sexual harassment report revealed.

Wits University commissioned an inquiry into the nature, scale and extent of the problem of sexual harassment on campus.

One of the findings in the report points out that there has been a vacant position for a medical doctor at Campus Health which has five staff members servicing 30 000 students and 2 000 Wits staff members.

According to the report, Campus Health is under- resourced and does not have enough staff to deal with sexual harassment cases.

The report criticised the physical conditions of Campus Health, located in the Matrix.

“There is no fresh air, the physical conditions are unhygenic, with common cases of flooding from the top floors,” read the report.

[pullquote align=”right”]”There is no fresh air, the physical conditions are unhygenic, with common cases of flooding from the top floors,” read the report. [/pullquote]

The location is also “not suitable” for the disabled.

The report revealed that Campus Health does not have its own vehicle and cannot transport sexual abuse complainants to the necessary points of assistance. Campus Control is responsible for transporting complainants to Milpark Hospital.

The findings in the report said Campus Control does not have any particular facilities for victims who need to be transported to
Milpark Hospital.

Victims of sexual abuse are required to wait in a general waiting area where there is foot traffic.

The university’s sexual harassment adviser, Maria Wanyane, said Campus Health staff are currently not permitted to handle any form of sexual harassment case, due to lack of resources.

Rape kits and evidence needs to be collected by specialised doctors, but Campus Health does not have such a doctor on call, Wanyane said

One of the contradictions the report picked up was that victims can bring a friend with them to file a complaint. However, they cannot accompany the complainant when they are transported to the hospital in a bakkie, which only seats two.

The report also revealed that Campus Control does not have enough officers to deal with the number of requests they receive for their escort service.



SRC calls for 24-hour health service

by Palesa Radebe

THE SRC has called for a 24-hour health service on campus, following student complaints and demands for better health services.

At the moment Campus Health has four staff members servicing 30 000 students and 2 000 Wits staff members.

The biggest issue raised by students concerns its closing hours and the long waiting times to consult with nurses.

The campus clinic closes at 4.30pm and some students only finish their classes at 5pm.

SRC secretary Tasneem Essop said, as part of their action agenda, the SRC wanted the university to employ more nurses, increase working hours and have better resources.

[pullquote]”We want [to] increase resourcing, staffing, [and] two night nurses starting this year that will increase when the needs of the students go up,” [/pullquote]

“We want [to] increase resourcing, staffing, [and] two night nurses starting this year that will increase when the needs of the students go up,” Essop told the Wits Vuvuzela.

The SRC and Campus Health will approach Wits management jointly to ask for 24-hour health services. They will also ask management to increase staff within the division so they can remain open longer.

“If you increase your staff, you increase your working times,” said Essop. “Getting more staff will also get the lines to move faster, and less waiting time.”

Head of Campus Health, Sister Yvonne Matimba, is in favour of Campus Health remaining open 24 hours of the day. But she does not support the idea of nurses carrying medicine to different
residences at night.

“Nurses would easily become vulnerable at night, if they would have to walk around campus carrying a bag filled with medical supplies,” Matimba said.

Approached by Wits Vuvuzela, students said night nurses were needed on campus and that it would be valuable to have them around.

Boteng Maluke, 1st year Law, said: “Night nurses are not a bad idea. People need to be able to access nurses. I had a migraine and I didn’t know what to do. I just took pills but I needed medical attention.”

Amanda Nkhumeleni, 1st year BAcc, said she would like it if nurses were available for 24 hours. “If I get sick in the middle of the night, they call Campus Protection, and they take you to hospital which is far. It’s better to have a night nurse.”

The meeting with Wits management will be held in September and the SRC hopes to have night nurses available by the end of the year.


Mystery muck stench

A MYSTERIOUS odour—reeking of rotting food on some days, human waste on others—is plaguing the Matrix.

The source of the persisting foul odour appears to be along the back entrance of the building and has made the use of the nearby walkway unpleasant for many.

In addition to causing discomfort amongst passers-by, the foul odour also plagues practitioners and patients at nearby campus health facilities and is near a loading bay for food suppliers.

Sister Yvonne Matimba, head of campus health, said the odour was something that affected their operation at the centre.

“It’s not ideal for a health facility. I talk about hygiene but then we are next to an unhygienic source. It’s not ideal.”

Matimba said they had notified the university about the odour.

“We have raised it with them, but…”she said before trailing off and shrugging.

The cause of this smell appears to be a matter of speculation and finger-pointing between several sources.

There has been speculation that the smell is caused by the sewage deposit point situated in the nearby area. However, these claims were rejected by Joe Nembudani, campus facilities manager at Property and Infrastructure Management Division (PIMD).

Nembudani said the only drainage in the area was in the form of a storm water channel used to prevent flooding.

But several cleaners based in the Matrix building claimed faulty piping from the Matrix toilets was causing the foul smell in the area.

One cleaner, Samuel Gafane, said: “You see these pipes have holes in them? When someone flushes the toilet upstairs the waste travels through these pipes and makes this area smell.”

Gafane pointed to a disturbing sight. Even on a dry day, puddles of water are present in the area. The constant dripping of fluid has attracted swarms of flies to holes in the pipes.

Nembudani countered that the only possible smell in the area was caused by the cleaners themselves as well as several shop owners in the Matrix, who he believed poured waste product in the storm water channels.

MYSTERY UNCOVERED: The channel where greasy residue is allegedly drained by shop owners.

MYSTERY UNCOVERED: The channel where greasy residue is allegedly drained by shop owners.
Photo: Dineo Bendile

“I promise you it’s not sewage. It’s because of the fat poured by people who are lazy,” Nembudani said. “Even the cleaners they’ve been emptying dirty water into those channels.”

Gafane rejected this and said it was not possible that the soap water he used to clean could cause the odour.

James McCarthy of Phezulu Plumbing, a company often appointed to clean out the channels, said grease from the Matrix shops was a possible source for the foul smell in the area.

“The grease solidifies and ends up clogging the drain and smelling,” he said.

Nembudani said he was unaware of any problem with bad odours as nothing had been reported to him.


THE FINGER POINTING CONTINUES: Cleaners identify a second source of the smell - pipes from the Matrix toilets.

THE FINGER POINTING CONTINUES: Cleaners identify a second source of the smell – faulty pipes from the Matrix toilets.
Photo: Dineo Bendile




Wits students do not TOP numbers

Although legal abortion statistics in South Africa have gone up, a campus nurse says the numbers of students who opt to go for abortions have gone down over the last five years.

Last week Monday health minister, Aaron Mostoaledi, released statistics showing a 31 % increase from 2010’s 59,447 to 77,771.

The three provinces which ranked highest were the Free State, North-West province and Gauteng.

During 2011 there were 21, 944 abortions carried out in the Free State, followed by 12,138 in the North-West and 11,239 in Gauteng.

According to a paper by Lynette Vermaas, a researcher from the Student Development and Support (SDS) at Tswhane University of Technology (TUT), student pregnancies at tertiary institutions worldwide are increasing every year despite the assumption that students have sufficient knowledge of the risks of unprotected sex.

Campus Health and Careers Counselling and Development Unit (CCDU) work together in assisting female students make informed decisions about termination of pregnancy (TOP).

Sister Maggy Moloi, a nurse at Campus Health, said the clinic advocates for “family planning education, especially to first years [students] during Orientation Week.”

She mentioned the clinic does not, carry out abortions because it offers primary healthcare which includes services such as family planning and treatment of STIs and HIV testing.

CCDU psychologist Toinette Bradley said: “We do work with Campus Health but students wanting ToPs are usually referred to clinics and hospitals.”

Moloi said Campus Health refers students to the Marie Stopes near Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto because it’s much more affordable than the one in Ghandi Square.

When asked whether students use termination of pregnancy as a contraceptive measure she said: “Most of the students access contraceptives from the clinic. They do know about the service.”

However, she believes that generally young women do not access contraceptives from clinics because they are not educated about the different types of contraceptive measures available.

Moloi said the problem is fuelled by misconstrued information about the effects that birth control pills have on their bodies. Young women don’t communicate with their parents about sexual matters because they are considered as taboo in some families.

Although the statistics referred only to legal abortions, Sister Moloi said the biggest problem faced was that people still go for backstreet abortions and “some end up with infections or even worse, they end up dead”.

An example of this was the death of University of Johannesburg (UJ) student, Ayanda Masondo (20) earlier this year. Masondo was found dead in her residence room from what was reported to be a botched illegal abortion.

Campus Health’s relationship with CCDU helps with the possible emotional consequences of abortion.

“Those students who come back frustrated and depressed because of the abortion, then we refer them there for further counselling,” said Moloi.

She believes the clinic used to have “a huge number of students coming in for assistance for abortions but compared to five years ago to now, the numbers are very low”.


Published in Vuvuzela 22nd edition,31 August 2012