Schools HIV testing on track

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pretoria - The Ministries of Health and Basic Education will in due course outline to the nation the full details of the schools-based HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign.

The voluntary campaign is expected to be rolled out at high schools soon and tests will be performed in private spaces on school premises during weekends and school holidays.

The national Department of Health says it is finalising plans and is in constant consultation with department authorities on how the testing drive would work.

Department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said there was a need to ensure that the programme was tailor-made for children, taking into account issues of confidentiality and support.

He said the needs of learners for child specific support and follow-up required the HCT campaign to adopt extra preparatory measures to safeguard the best interests of the children involved.

"These special measures will delay the implementation of the HCT schools campaign, but they will specifically maximise the benefits of the campaign for learners," said Hadebe.

Serious concerns have been raised with teachers' unions, legal experts and child's rights organisations, saying they need to know exactly how it will work.

Hadebe said special provisions will be put in place to ensure the best interests of the children.

He said a technical task team will ensure that child specific issues are addressed and that appropriate support and care is in place to assist children who opt to take part in the schools based campaign.

The campaign will be phased in through carefully selected schools and districts, which according to Hadebe, will allow for extensive monitoring and evaluation and guaranteed service delivery quality for the children.

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