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HIV/AIDS could kill 20% of southern Africa’s farm workers by 2020
2008-09-27

HIV / AIDS is claimed to account for 40% - 50% of infections in the workforce in some labor-intensive industries. This means that every farmer will have to replace up to 50% of his workforce within the next 10 years.

This was said by Mrs Estelle Heideman (pictured) of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science at the University of the Free State (UFS) at the launch of a DVD about a project to equip farm workers with knowledge and skills regarding HIV / AIDS.

Mrs Heideman was quoting the research findings of Agrimark Consultant, Johan Willemse, and added that farm workers, because of low literacy levels, remoteness of the areas in which they live and the distances to health care facilities, are often forgotten when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes.

This weekend Mrs Heideman leaves for New York City to take up a scholarship awarded to her by the University of Columbia and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to participate in the M-A-C AIDS Sponsored Leadership Programme.

The leadership Initiative provides a structured support program to enable participants to exchange best practices in the approach to HIV prevention that can be adapted to local circumstances. At the conclusion of the program the Leadership Initiative will, amongst other benefits, provide funds for Fellows to carry out their prevention program in South Africa.

Such a program was already carried out from February to May this year as part of the Lengau Agri Centre’s Farm Project in collaboration with the Chief Directorate Community Service at the UFS on the farms Slangfontein, Dwarsrivier and Pypersfontein in the Philippolis district.

According to Mrs Heideman, who is the co-coordinator of the project, the aim of this project was to equip farm workers with knowledge and skills regarding HIV/AIDS so that they can take control of their lives and make quality decisions.

“A major advantage of working with farm workers is that the whole family is included in the session and this ensures that all generations get the same message”, she said.

At the end the feedback from the farm workers about the programme was positive. “Many said they had tested for HIV and will continue to do so to ensure that they would be around to see their children grow up”, said Mrs Heideman.

Copies of the DVD can be obtained from Estelle Heideman (0828211230) or Tarryn Nell (0832573843).

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
26 September 2008


 

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