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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

#Women'sMonth: Lack of HIV education still affects children
2017-08-17

Description: Nickie Goedhals Tags: Dr Nickie Goedhals, Medical Microbiology and Virology, The Lancet, transmission of HIV, National Research Foundation 

Dr Nickie Goedhals, Senior Lecturer and Pathologist
in Medical Microbiology and Virology at the UFS.
Photo: Sonia Small



“Despite all the advances in the management and prevention of HIV, children still become infected every day, often due to lack of education and access to health care.” This is according to Dr Nickie Goedhals, Senior Lecturer and Pathologist in Medical Microbiology and Virology at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Study published in UK medical Journal 
A case study she was part of and published in the UK medical journal The Lancet in 2012, demonstrates the transmission of HIV to a child through surrogate breastfeeding. This study is one of the many highlights in the young researcher’s career. She received her first rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2017 for the work she has done in Medical Virology over the past eight years.

According to the above-mentioned study, only about 1% of infants in South Africa are being breastfed by a surrogate. However, results from a study in the Free State showed that shared breastfeeding by a non-biological caregiver was the most important factor associated with HIV infection in discordant mother-child pairs. Therefore, continued education about the risk of HIV transmission is needed.

Dr Goedhals is also continuing with research on HIV by looking at HIV drug resistance. She is in the process of starting new projects focusing on HIV infection and drug resistance in infants.

PSP helped with NRF-rating
She says, although her NRF Y2-rating is the starting point of a research career, it shows that she is heading in the right direction, and it “gives access to research funds through the NRF for future projects.” Other important research she conducted was on Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever – the study for her PhD.

The Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) at the UFS is the reason that she applied for the rating. “With all the service delivery, teaching, and administrative responsibilities of academic medicine, it is easy to lose focus. The PSP has really helped to create a focused and stimulating environment for research.” According to her, the PSP also provides access to a network of peers and senior staff at the UFS, as well as exposure to national and international experts.

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