Sub-Sahara Africa houses a staggering 65% of people living with HIV and AIDS globally. This is a disproportionate burden, seeing that the subcontinent only has 10% of the world’s people and 1% of the resources. In South Africa alone around 5,5 million people are HIV positive. The disease primarily kills people in their most productive years and exceeds any other threat to the wellbeing of employees. The economic impact is therefore substantial.
Towards the end of 2000 SA’s presidency challenged Stellenbosch University to develop aprogramme that takes HIV training and capacity building to the managers and labour leaders of the workforce. The rationale behind the challenge was that, regardless of what is done in the community, prevention and care had to be extended to the workplace in order to make a dent in the epidemic. This led to the development of the Postgraduate Diploma in HIV/AIDS Management (PDM), first presented in 2001. Today the centre also presents a masters programme.
Putting theory into practice
The Africa Centre believes academic institutions must play a creative and active role in nourishing social, political and economic transformation. This includes creating new programmes across the divides of the past, says Professor Jan du Toit, director of the centre. As a direct result of the success of the PDM, the Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management was established in January 2003. Originally part of the Department of Industrial Psychology, the centre is now a separate unit for education, research and community service related to HIV and AIDS management in the workplace.