Judge Cameron sets tone with public HIV testing

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

Aids activist Judge Edwin Cameron, pictured, was among high-ranking professionals from various institutions who took public HIV tests at the University of South Africa in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The event, at Unisa's Sunnyside campus, was organised by the Higher Education HIV-Aids Programme. Cameron made public his status in 1986 after discovering that he was HIV-positive.

He advised the public to get tested and empower themselves through knowledge.

"HIV-Aids is a medically treatable condition and people do not need to be scared. I have been on antiretrovirals for 14 years now and I am leading a healthy and vigorous life," Cameron said yesterday.

South African Students Union president Lucky Phosa, who is HIV-negative, said he would have taken the public test even if he did not know his status because testing was an important step.

"I was scared at first but I told myself that I would either test negative or positive, therefore I had nothing to be scared of. I brought with me five student leaders and challenged them to also invite other five student leaders to encourage as many people as we can to take the test," said Phosa.

The public HIV test campaign was organised to promote voluntary testing on campuses. Headed by council members, vice-chancellors, student leaders, academics and administrators, the testing will continue on campuses across the country for the next three weeks.

The vice-chancellor of North West University, Theuns Eloff, said HIV testing among healthy individuals was an important symbolic act and, if widely adopted, could make an important contribution to reducing the spread of the virus.