A national HIV prevalence study undertaken by Higher Education South Africa (HESA) in 2007 estimated the average prevalence rate for UFS students living with HIV to be 3,5%, implying that there are many more students affected (having a significant other living with HIV & AIDS) by HIV than those living with HIV & AIDS.

Often, families and friends of those infected by HIV & AIDS are stigmatised along with those who are living with HIV. The affected persons also bear the burden of having to support their loved ones both emotionally and financially and are faced with coping with a range of emotions, from shock at the time of disclosure to grief at the loss of life. People affected by HIV require support; they need to be resilient to the effects of adversity and remain flexible in order to be able to meet the demands of being affected by this virus. This prompted the need to form a support group for students affected by HIV and AIDS.

On 4 May 2012 an empowerment group for students affected by HIV & AIDS was launched with the aim to create a space for students to:

  • share their HIV-related experiences and stories;
  • acquire new skills;
  • support each other in dealing with loss; and
  • re-invest energy in new ways.

The group meetings will be organised and facilitated by staff from the Health and Wellness’ Centre’s HIV & AIDS Office. It is planned that the group will meet twice a month and that the group members will decide on the structure of the group and topics to be covered.

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