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Let's Talk HIV Prevention - Together, with research we can overcome HIV!

This event is part of the 2011 Let’s Talk HIV Prevention series sponsored by the Enterprise. For more information about these events, click here.

City, Country:  Rustenburg, North West Province, South Africa

Organization Hosting Event:  The Aurum Institute

 Organization’s website: www.auruminstitute.org

 Date/Time:    Saturday, 21 May 2011 / 09:00 – 14:00

 Location (facility name and address): Matebeleng School Hall, Ward 35, Rustenburg Municipality, Bonjanala Platinum Mining District, North West Province, South Africa

Event Report (submitted by the hosting organization):

The objective of this event was multiple and included: feeding back to the community the findings from our HIV vaccine preparedness studies; HIV vaccine research awareness, and thanking the community for their support for research to date. In addition, we also provided the opportunity for this community to know their HIV status through HIV counselling and testing provided by our Aurum PEPFAR-funded testing service.

These were the words of motivation from the councillor “my responsibilities as the community leader is to lead by example – as I am standing here I am making a commitment that today I will know my status and for that I thank Aurum, Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, and IAVI as they opened a platform for all of us to know our current health status”.

Our Goal = “SEEKING KNOWLEDGE TOGETHER AND TO TALK ABOUT HIV PREVENTION”

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Prof Mary Latka, a highly respected Epidemiologist who oversees the Rustenburg Research Centre’s HIV prevention research gave a presentation about findings from our past and current studies. She emphasized that young women often with only 1 sexual partner are most at risk of HIV, and that HIV circulating in our communities due to not just a lack of condom use, but also the practice of multiple partnering. She noted that 40% of the men in our research report having more than 1 partner, while only 15% of the women do so. She also noted that many of the communities in Rustenburg have been instrumental in showing interest about health issues and the current status of HIV and its impact in our communities particularly the community of Matebeleng. In her speech, Prof Latka encouraged the community to participate in such initiatives as they are meant to improve their health status and to have a community that is aware and educated about HIV and AIDS. She concluded by thanking the entire community of Matebeleng for their help in learning about the risk factors associated with HIV especially in Rustenburg – knowing these factors will help bring right intervention and management of this pandemic with vaccines being one of these interventions. 

We had two research participants who shared their experience in participating in the research studies. They encouraged their peers to participate and provided information about the processes and what to expect when enrolled in research studies. Ms Malefo, Senior Research Assistant for The Aurum Institute also shared the experience of working with communities and what a fulfilling result this could bring if we all combine our efforts in eradicating the spread of this disease.
Among the speakers we had Ms Maaza Seyoum, Senior Program Manager for International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Southern Africa Programs who took us through the history of vaccines and how IAVI is been involved in educating various communities especially the disadvantaged and those with limited resources. Vaccine literacy is one of the best education programs that IAVI are involved with and has since saw a number of communities and individuals becoming aware of the impact of the results.

Audience attendance

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It was a standing room only event. We had 319 people sign in, and dozens more looking into the event from outside, as well as 198 people who opted to test for HIV on the day. The following sectors were represented: community, goverment, business, traditional healers, traditional leaders, women sector, youth sector, People living with HIV, Volunteers, research staff, and the mining sector.

Intended follow up:
As a research site we will continue to involve this community in our research studies as appropriate. We will be doing HCT service at least twice a month for those who would want to test to provide the services allowable within Aurum’s mission. This continued contact will also facilitate access to future research studies.

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