The largest HIV/Aids testing and counselling campaign in South Africa will start this week in an effort to take the bull by the horns as stated by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Announced last week, the campaign will cost some and will expectedly see 15 million people tested for HIVand Aids by next year. Besides testing, the campaign includes a massive education, information and mobilisation plan, and involves all government hospitals, clinics, universities and further education and training campuses.
The department of health has issued 9000 letters to retired healthcare staff, of which 4000 have indicated their availability to help implement the campaign. Furthermore Motsoaledi has enlisted the help of other sectors - NGO sector pledged 9000 counsellors to the campaign, and SANDF medical staff have committed to help. Medical universities are expected to release their final - year medical students to allow them to contribute, especially during the beginning stages of the campaign. “There's never been a better time to get a qualification and get started in a career as an aids counsellor,” says Amelia Bene of Boston City Campus and Business College. If you feel a calling and you are committed to HIV/Aids prevention, treatment and care, recognising these as fundamental human rights as stated in the UN manifesto, don't hesitate to get going in the field of aids counselling.
She points out that aids counselling offers long-term career prospects. The new government campaign is intense and far reaching, but one needs to keep in mind that aids counselling is not an once-off exercise,” she says. “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are more people living with HIV than before as antiretroviral therapy makes it possible for those infected with the virus to live longer.” Aids workers and counsellors are active in every sphere of life, across industries and occupations - they disseminate the correct information about the disease and its treatment and provide much needed support to those affected. There is various employment opportunities - part- time, full-time as well as self - employment.
Companies with large workforces often employ permanent qualified staff to deal with the emotional and practical issues related to the disease, but there are also entrepreneurial opportunities. Qualified aids counsellors can opt to offer their expertise on a consulting basis to organisations involved in curbing HIV/Aids such as government agencies, NGOs and humanitarian and research bodies; aids counselling can thus also serves as a part time occupation as a second source of income. However, to be able to offer aids counselling professionally, one has to have a recognized qualification,” Bene says. It goes without saying that you also need to be a compassionate person, love dealing with people and have the personality and value system necessary to deal with those infected or affected.”
Boston City Campus and Business College offers a HIV/Aids counselling and management NQF 5 qualification both as a part-time or correspondence course. The one year course was developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts, including respected medical practitioners working in the field of HIV/Aids, clinical and counselling psychologists, counsellors HIV/Aids is educationists as well as sexologists and other relevant role players. The course is holistic in its approach, focusing on topics that include conventional prevention, care and support for the infected and affected, nutrition, counselling, community networking and policy development. During 2009, Boston revamped the course to accommodate latest developments in the field. As HIV/Aids is a relatively new disease and research is being carried out continually, we felt the need to bring the course up to date to include the newest statistics and other relevant information,” adds Bene. “The Boston programme is supported by the Health Department and has been e ndorsed by the SA Society of Sexuality Educators.” A matric certificate is the minimum requirement for those wanting to enroll for the Boston Aids counselling course, which is on the same level as a first-year degree course. The course can be done either via correspondence or by attending classes at any of the 48 Boston branches countrywide. A big plus is that students may register for this qualification throughout the year, as there is no closing date applicable.
For more information on the HIV/Aids counselling and management NQF5 qualification offered by Boston City Campus and Business College, phone 011 551 2000, e-mail or visit www.boston.co.za.