Increasing the number of men who test for HIV in the post-schooling sector has been a key challenge since the launch of the First Things First program (FTF) in 2011. The FTF programme which contributes to the objectives of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB seeks to maximise opportunities for testing for HIV using rapid finger prick tests.

Over the past few years, female students have dominated the testing numbers with males always falling at 30% or below of those who tested. Last year saw this number rise for the first time, with the uptake of males who tested nationally at universities reaching a new precedent of 36%.

Alex Semba, HEAIDS Project Manager said a couple of strategies assisted in increasing male participation in testing drives. Mr. Semba and his team planned and facilitated thematically targeted interventions for young men. This included dialogues and targeted initiatives at Sports Days on various campuses.

The targeted location of testing facilities at locations that are frequented by men on campuses also assisted, with emphasis being placed on male residences and faculties that have majority male students. Proximity and accessibility remain central to all HIV/AIDS mitigation strategies.

“It took several integrated approaches to increase the number of males testing. The location, messaging and deliberate targeting has yielded results. The dialogues were aimed specifically at male students also proved to be really fruitful spaces for men to mobilise and engage in safe places about fears, concerns and lived experience”-according to Mr. Semba.

He added that; “In 2018, we plan to strengthen these initiatives so young men can begin to take decisive action in ensuring their own health. We implore all young men on campus to feel free to add and advise around what could make testing more youth male friendly. We look forward to working with our peer educators, learners and staff to keep the number rising. ”


Dear students across South Africa,

Let us all take a moment to reflect on the social challenges and challenges regarding health and wellness you face on a daily basis. The HIV epidemic has caused significant loss of life and has affected almost all of us over the past few decades. Whilst we have made significant progress in the past few years, we still have more than 270 000 new HIV infections every year with an estimated 2 000 new infections in adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 years each week.

Added to this we have more than 70 000 young girls below the age of 18 years getting pregnant each year. We are aware that our students face difficult financial challenges that often leave our female learners in transactional relationships with older men or even engaging in sex work. Many young people experience some form of Gender Based Violence while studying at institutions of higher learning and are often faced with mental health challenges, which leads to increasing rates of suicides on campuses across the country. This is a reality of South Africa that is often not acknowledged.

As the CEO of the HEAIDS programme, I would like to let you know that we are aware of these challenges and we hear you. We also want to encourage all of you to focus on your studies and refrain from engaging in risky sexual behaviour or relationships that leave you vulnerable. If you experience any form of Gender Based Violence or you become a witness of such crimes, please report it to your institution. We need you to help us in this challenge.

We know that as your orientation week is starting at your universities and TVET colleges across the country, you will be faced with a lot of social activities that often involve drinking alcohol. You might even be offered other forms of drugs. Long hours at the library and the pressure of performing in your studies might leave you thinking about taking drugs to keep you awake for longer and increase your productivity. Let me remind you that all kinds of substances – alcohol, drugs, and performance enhancing medication, is going to compromise your health and well-being in the meantime. So I would like to urge all of you to please drink responsibly, take care of your health and make use of the services that are offered to you in the case that you feel like you have a problem with substance abuse.  

As HEAIDS we are fully committed to ensuring that our students across all TVET colleges and universities can take care of their health and have a successful academic year 2018. We invite all our learners to participate in our programmes and would like to encourage them to get to know their HIV status, as we believe that a healthy student contributes to a healthy society.

Thanking you for your attention and wishing all of you a successful academic year 2018.

Best wishes from the HEAIDS Team.


Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum calarm, antepouserit placerat facer possim assim litterarum formas humanitatis.
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Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum calarm, antepouserit placerat facer possim assim litterarum formas humanitatis.
Read more


Dear HEAIDS partners and friends,

Please find HEAIDS annual report outlining here, our various activities for 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. 

We thank you for your continued support,