Evaluating a Peer Education HIV/AIDS Program at a Higher Education Institution in South Africa

Sunday, 29 October 2017: 4:35 PM

Hilda Frances Vember, PhD
Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences; CPUT, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville:7535, South Africa

Background: The one problem that we are facing as a nation is the scourge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic throughout Africa. Education seems to be one of the biggest weapons to fight this pandemic; hence it is expected of Higher Education Institution (HEIs) to respond to this problem in a meaningful manner in order to make HIV/AIDS a visible reality on all our campuses. This research was prompted, based on the feedback of a HEAIDS report in 2008, that no peer education program at HEIs were monitored and evaluated. The objective was to identify various best practices and challenges of these peer education training programs at an HEI in the Western Cape.

Methods: The setting was a HEI. The key population was the students who were selected between 2010 and 2011 academic years to serve as peer educators for HIV/AIDS education in the selected HEI. These students were selected at the beginning of each academic year to participate in this program, participation was voluntary. Focus group interviews were used, to collect data. 40 Peer educators participated in this research project. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematic content analysis was applied to interpret and analyzed the data. Where necessary, experts in the field are called upon to assist. All ethical considerations were adhered to.

Results: For Best Practices, the following was evident: Reflection needs to be focused on during training sessions for both trainers and peer educators. This will assist both parties to translate theory into practice. Trainers and peer educators will also have to self-reflect on their own identities and how these came to be shaped.

Challenges were as follows: Peer educators reported that HIV/AIDS information received was outdated and the same program content was offered in the last 3 years. Training courses were overloaded with information. Lack of communication between trainers and peer educators, were also a major obstacle. The use of the English language predominantly in sessions, was also problematic, as the majority of the peer educators were XHOSA speaking.

Conclusions: If the lifespan of the peer education training programs on HEIs is intensified and more students are engaged in these programs, it would have the potential to develop students into advocacy-orientated communities that would eventually challenge the HIV/AIDS pandemic through united mobilized action. HEIs should also provide more financial assistance to make these programs more viable.