Keeping it in the family – Mother and Son graduate PgDip and Mphil together
Shireen Strauss and her son, Aidan, both recently successfully completed their Mphil degree and PgDip in HIV/AIDS Management. This Namibian mother and son combination received their respective qualifications at the recent April 2019 graduation ceremony of Stellenbosch University.
Shireen, who already holds multiple qualifications including a Bphil in Sustainable Development, works in international development and for PEPFAR. She says that the MPhil HIV/AIDS Management has given her indispensable knowledge and confidence to interact and relate to the epidemic as a development professional. Says Shireen, “the qualification can open so many doors. If you choose your research study judiciously and purposefully, it can indeed give you a career boost." Most importantly, Shireen says that she learnt that in order to make a meaningful contribution to the attainment of epidemic control, a sustainable response to HIV/AIDS in people-focused development is best accomplished through a trilateral approach, involving government, private sector and civil society. “This is what the degree equips you with."
According to Aidan, his mom was his inspritation because she did so well in her studies at the Centre. Aidan, who also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science apart from the recently obtained PGDip, is currently pursuing the Mphil in HIV/AIDS Management and hope to graduate in March 2020. Says Aidan, “I actually enjoy studying at the Centre, and look forward to the rest of the year as my MPhil research project unfolds". Aidan's personal goal to be where it matters and making a difference in people's lives. “I believe that my research or the profession that I will eventually choose, will hopefully enhance this goal. The HIV/AIDS epidemic robs the planet of its most valuable resource….the people, therefore saving lives is at the forefront of a development strategy; and I want to be part of it".
The Africa Centre wishes these two excellent scholars all the best for their current and future academic endeavours!
Africa Centre Mphil students shine at the 9th SAAIDS Conference
The Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management had a record number of accepted presentations for the recent 9th SA AIDS Conference held from 11-14 June 2019 at the Durban ICC. In total, five ex-Mphil students' research outputs were accepted: Four students were accepted to do oral presentations and one student was accepted to do a poster presentation. The oral presentations were: Mr Tsepo Mako (“The success and failures of PrEP-the perspective of discordant couples at Lesotho Defence Force"), Ms Monica Mutetwa (“An explorative study into shortages and understaffing of professional medical staff: A case study at Bonda Mission Hospital, Zimbabwe), Ms Mandu Mguli (“The Blesser-Blessee Phenomenon and HIV: The perceptions and attitudes of young women on the factors that influence their peers to engage in inter-generational sexual relationships in Mofolo Central and Dube Townships"), and Ms Refiloe Ntoi (“The importance of task-shifting in the management of HIV and AIDS as understood by nursing students at the Nursing & Primary Health Care Institute in Durban, South Africa"). Ms Juliane Kum's research (“Reducing HIV related stigma and increasing access to voluntary counseling and testing") was accepted for a poster presentation.
Says, Mr Tsepo Mako (pictured) about his experience at the conference, “Being part of this event was a moment to cherish over an over again. The reception from registration to the speakers' room was fantastic. When the time came for my presentation, the chair gave a very colourful introduction about me and this gave me a lot of courage to present my research findings. I felt so humbled by being on that stage and I got to appreciate how far I have grown academically". Tsepo, who excelled during his presentation, says that the conference was an eye opener to him and that he will forever be thankful to have been a part of it. Well done to Tsepo and fellow Mphil students!
Mphil students present their research at Botswana international conference
At the recent 7th Botswana International HIV Conference, former Mphil students Motseiwa Mokalake and Reward Manyathelo presented posters about the research they conducted as part of their Mphil studies. Also in attendance were the Centre's Ms Renice Williams (Programme Manager) and Prof Johan Augustyn (lecturer). Ms Mokalake's study was about the reasons why parents are reluctant to disclose their HIV positive status to their children, while Mr Manyathelo's looked at the barriers to safe medical male circumcision as a method to prevent HIV infection. Both studies were conducted among cohorts in Botswana.
Says Reward about what he learned at the conference, “Botswana has achieved a lot in providing free HIV treatment to its citizens, treating tuberculosis, and prevention of mother to child HIV transmissions. However, there is still a lot that we need to do as a country as there is a 4% increase in HIV new infection." Further problems, according to Motseiwa, are that “donors are withdrawing from funding HIV/AIDS projects (in Botswana). Additionally, there are many gaps available in political leadership when it comes to prevention and there is no systematic prevention implementation at scale."
Both students felt it was an amazing opportunity provided by the Africa Centre for them to showcase their research, as well as rubbing shoulders with colleagues from the Centre. “Their coming to Gaborone should not be taken for granted as it raised the flag of the University high. It was also a chance for them to learn how Botswana and other countries prevent the impact of the epidemic from the horse's mouth. Keep it up guys 'Re ya leboga' (thank you)".
Former Mphil students present their research at the 12th INTEREST conference in Rwanda
Antoniette Kuboya and Moses Simpokolwe, two former Mphil (HIV/Aids Management) students at the Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management, recently attended the 12th International Conference on the HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis, and Prevention Research in Resource-Limited Settings (INTEREST) in Kigali, Rwanda. Accompanying them was Dr Burt Davis, lecturer at the Centre. Both Antoniette and Moses had poster presentations at the conference based on their Mphil research. Antoniette's study was about the experiences of foster parents who take care of HIV+ children in Khayelitsha (South Africa), while Moses' study evaluated his current workplace's HIV/Aids policy (an oil company in Zambia).
Says Antoniette about her experiences at the conference, “I learnt that, despite successes inovercoming the Aids epidemic, new infections continued to rise due to lack of funding and political challenges. There is a lot of focus on key populations (e.g. sex workers) that are considered to be particularly vulnerable to HIV, especially in Rwanda itself. I was also encouraged by the approach Rwanda adopts at all their HIV testing facilities. Couples voluntary HIV counselling and testing are offered in all HIV testing facilities in Rwanda, and has significantly decreased HIV transmission in couples". Moses concurs. “I learnt that the fight (against HIV/Aids) is only feasible with involvement of leadership at all levels, especially a political one. For example, the government of Rwanda is heavily involved in giving policy guidelines on HIV prevention though practical interventions. There is basically a political will, that in itself is the best ingredient in the fight against this deadly disease."
The conference had a very positive effect on both Mphil students. “The information that I gathered at the conference directly influenced me to consider designing an HIV stigma related training manual for foster parents caring for HIV positive foster children," says Antoniette. According to Moses, the interaction with and interest from delegates during his poster session and at the conference in general were fantastic. “It provided me with a forum for networking. I have come to know people who I now interact with on social media. I am also going to be sharing with our employees and management at my workplace the lessons I learnt from this conference".
“Had it not been for the Africa Centre offfering us this opportunity, introducing us to the 12th INTEREST Conference", says Antoinette and Moses, “we would not have known about the existence of this forum and generally about the HIV situation in Rwanda. We really appreciate the Centre's gesture for sponsoring our attendance, and for expanding our horizons'.
Mother and daughter obtain PgDip (HIV/AIDS) – in the same year!
The mother and daughter team of Mary Mataranyika and Patsva Madzokere both obtained their PgDip (HIV/AIDS) in March of this year – a first for the Africa Centre!
Both mother and daughter hail from Zimbabwe, but are currently working in Namibia. Mary has been employed by the Namibian Government since 2010 at the Ministry of Health and Social Services as this country's chief medical laboratory technologist – being in charge of all the laboratories in the country. She holds, among other, a BSc degree in Clinical Sciences and a BTech degree in Biomedical Technology, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health.
Says Mary about the PgDip (HIV/AIDS) at Stellenbosch, “When the opportunity presented itself to do this diploma, I jumped at it. Little did I know that my daughter had also applied for the same course and in the same year!"
Patsva holds a BSc Honours in Pharmacy and is a registered pharmacist. She currently works at a Government hospital in Namibia. Both mother and daughter qualified to do the Mphil degree in HIV AIDS Management at the Centre in 2018.
According to Mary, “the PgDip in HIV/AIDS management has really opened our eyes to the HIV /AIDS pandemic. It's possible to actually plan an intervention which can be successful. Assessing the impact that HIV has had in our communities has been made easy with this training, the role that me as a lab scientist and Patsva's as a pharmacist can play have been made clearer."
The Africa Centre wishes this dynamic duo all the best for their Mphil studies!
Africa Centre lecturer, Dr Burt Davis, fights meth (“tik") use in a novel way
Tik use has reached crisis levels in the Western Cape and is leaving families ravaged by the adverse effects of the drug. Dr Burt Davis, a lecturer at the Africa Centre for HIV/Aids Management at Stellenbosch University, received his doctoral degree in December 2017 for designing a scientifically-founded photo-novel that dealt with the health risks related to tik.
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Meet the Africa Centre's brand new director, Mrs Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola
Stellenbosch University's Africa Centre for HIV/Aids management has a new director, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, who herself was diagnosed with the disease in 2001 and thought she wouldn't live long.
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