At least 650 000 students at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges in the Free State are expected to benefit from the Higher Education Aids (HEAids) programme launched in the province recently.
The HIV and AIDS awareness project was first introduced by the Department of Higher Education and Training in 2012.
It aims to fight the spread of the disease through information, testing and counselling of thousands of college students.
The programme initially targeted universities but is now being rolled out to FET colleges.
In Bloemfontein, the programme was launched at the Motheo FET College. Free State HEAids coordinator Pakiso Thulo told hundreds of students at the college that the programme included pre- and post HIV testing and counselling. “The programme also seeks to empower female students to have negotiating powers with their sex partners about the use or non-use of condoms during intercourse … Motheo is making history today by being the first college in the country where the programme is launched,” said Thulo.
Free State Department of Education director Bob Tladi welcomed the programme.
He said it would encourage responsible sexual behaviour among FET college students in the province and contribute to the reduction of HIV infections among young people.
Tladi said the programme would reach the 650 000 students registered at the four FET colleges in the province this year and was also expected be rolled out at the Goldfields Flavius Mareka College and Maluti FET colleges