School puts spotlight on Aids awareness

Charles Daniels, Fred Damons, Alaine Sampson, Gavin Alkana, Felicity Dourando, Jonathan Skippers, Riedewaan Stevens, Gail Johannes and Zeenat Smith all got tested on the day.

Staff at Hillwood Primary School want people to know how important it is to know their health status.

The Lavender Hill school partnered with Upper Room Family Worship Church and showed a good example when they got tested for HIV last week.

Teachers and parents could voluntarily get tested on Thursday November 22 at the school.

Principal Gavin Alkana said the initiative was held in the run-up to World Aids Day on Saturday December 1, a day dedicated to raise awareness of the Aids pandemic.

“In the community there are many people who are HIV positive and have Aids and probably many who do not know their status. Many who have the virus also do not get treatment because many believe God will heal them without treatment.

“We volunteered to get tested to encourage the community to get tested and to go for treatment,” said Mr Alkana.

The school will open its gates to the community to get tested for free on Friday November 30.

Vincent Rhoda, Pastor at the Upper Room Family Worship Church, which is based at the school’s hall, said by getting tested they are making a statement for people to learn their status and to be assured that their status will be kept confidential.

“If we can do it, they should feel comfortable to do it. Get your status and get treatment,” said Mr Rhoda.

The pastor’s advice to people who do not want treatment because of religious reasons is to get the help they need.

“People who make a statement that they would not have themselves tested because God would heal them, I want to tell them that there’s nothing wrong with such a statement, but to apply our faith without work is dangerous. The antiretrovirals is the work and along with God’s grace, this will help you live a healthy life,” said Mr Rhoda.

Charles Daniels, an HIV counsellor, said there are many cases of diagnosed and probably undiagnosed cases in Lavender Hill. He hopes people take the opportunity to get tested.

For more information about the testing, contact the school on 021 701 9450.