HIV and Aids killing teachers daily - study

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AIDS newsEleven teachers die of HIV related illness daily in KwaZulu-Natal, and by 2010 one in every four teachers will be infected with HIV.

These alarming figures were revealed at a World Teachers' Day event in Durban on Wednesday, where teachers spent the day encouraging one another to get tested for HIV and to make use of a newly established teacher support programme.

The celebrations organised by the South African Democratic Teachers' Union focused on the prevention, care, treatment and an access programme, which was launched in March by teacher unions, the education department, Solidarity Centre South Africa and the Tshepang Doctors Trust.

The programme is aimed at providing support to HIV-positive teachers through counselling and the provision of anti-retroviral treatment. Several teachers have been trained to serve as master trainers, providing counselling to fellow teachers and affected pupils as part of the programme.

One of the trained teachers, Sajidah Ahmed, said the figures of teachers infected with and dying from HIV-related illnesses were shocking. Ahmed said 14 teachers had completed the training and were expected to train other teachers.

"At first, some principals were reluctant to send teachers for training, but now we are getting the principals workshopped as well," she said.

Ahmed said the programme came after a national sample study commissioned by the Education Labour Relations Council in 2005, which stated that 21,8 percent of teachers in KwaZulu-Natal were HIV-positive.

Ahmed said the programme would provide counselling and treatment for teachers and their spouses or partners and immediate family members.

Sadtu Provincial Secretary Sipho Nkosi urged teachers to practise safe sex, and to encourage pupils to abstain from premarital sex.

Other unions involved in the programme are the National Teachers' Union, the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers' Unie and the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa.

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