HIV and AIDS Peer Education

For more information about the UWC Peer Education Programme, please contact Joachim Jacobs at: Tel: 959 3091/2648 or Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Xavier September at: Tel: 959 2445/3365 or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Current projects

Meet the Peer educators


The community theatre group, AIDS ACT, was established in part to help combat issues of ‘AIDS fatigue’ among students. The group of nine students who form AIDS ACT were drawn from the 35 HIV/AIDS peer educators as well as other students interested in drama. AIDS ACT is an educational theatre project, aimed at relaying the message of HIV prevention in a creative and fun way. Drama is used to impart knowledge and address attitudes and beliefs about HIV and AIDS.
The theatre project is targeted both towards university students as well as high school students in the nearby community, although an important part of its work is to support the HIV/AIDS peer education activities. The group is also available for performances in organizations and businesses wishing to diversify their HIV/AIDS educational media. To successfully convey their message, a high premium is placed on audience participation. It is not uncommon for characters, during the play, to step out of character and interact with the spectators.
The members of the group are all undergraduate students with no prior theatre training or experience. The brief skits performed by the project are collaborative efforts based on observations, experiences and perceptions of campus life combined with training themes explored in HIV/AIDS training workshops. These themes are scripted jointly by the group, with members moving in and out of directorial, script writing, and acting roles. Two core themes, the impact of conceptions of gender roles and HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention, make up the conceptual foundation of AIDS ACT’s performance message.

For more information or to arrange for AID ACT to perform for your school or organization, please contact Joachim Jacobs at:

Tel: 959 3091/2648

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Past Projects
The Abstinence-Faithfulness Peer Education programme
This programme emphasizes abstinence for youth, including delay of sexual debut, mutual faithfulness and partner reduction for sexually active young adults. As such the programme attempts to promote abstinence and being faithful as effective strategies to prevent sexually transmitted infections(STIs), including HIV and unintended pregnancy.
Twenty peer educators were trained to conduct a series of 7 discussion groups with students across different year levels in the evenings in the university residences. The interventions are based on a set curriculum developed jointly by partner institutions involved in the programme. Themes covered in these sessions are self esteem, values, gender, decision making and negotiation skills.
This programme works in partnership with the University of the Free State (Qwa-Qwa campus), the University of Limpopo (Pretoria campus) and the Association of Catholic Students (ACTS) at UWC. The programme is funded by Family Health International (FHI).

Digital storytelling project

The UWC digital storytelling project conducts storytelling workshops to allow survivors of gender-based violence, witnesses of abuse and individuals who have been subjected to HIV and AIDS related stigma to write and record first-person narratives about their lives. The goal of the storytelling circle is to provide these individuals with the support, skills and equipment they need to create original multimedia pieces (using still images, video clips, photos and music) to illustrate the impact these events had on their lives. In the story circle, participants connect their own experiences with those of the group. This builds solidarity by revealing that we are not alone -- that violence affects everyone. The teaching is facilitative: the storytellers are talked through the steps they need to take in order to complete specific tasks.

Apart from the therapeutic value of the stories for the storytellers, these stories have become a powerful medium in the fight against violence, HIV stigma and HIV and AIDS education. The Digital Storytelling Project is a partnership project with EngenderHealth and is funded by USAID.

Gender-Based Peer Education Project

The aim of this project is to address gender power issues, masculinity issues, issues of sexual consent, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, gender-based barriers to testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and to look at safer sex behaviour within a gender context. It is hoped that the project will contribute to empowering both men and women to practice safer sex and thus reduce the spread of HIV at UWC.

The project focuses particularly on first year students in residences at UWC, who have been identified as a particularly vulnerable group.  Twenty peer educators (10 men and 10 women) are trained on annual basis to conduct a series of 10 workshops with first year students in the evenings in the residences.

The project also aims to train student leadership on campus in issues related to gender and its impact on HIV and AIDS.  It has held training workshops on the UWC campus with various faculties, student leadership and other interested students. The project also aims to build capacity relating to these issues in surrounding communities.

The gender-based peer education project works in co-operation with EngenderHealth and the international Men as Partners (MAP) programme. This project is funded by the Tertiary Education Linkage Programme (TELP).

The Zaweca HIV/ AIDS Peer Education project

The University of the Western Cape in collaboration with the University of Zambia has launched a new and innovative peer education programme as a means to equip students with lifeskills that will enable them to negotiate safer sex practices in order to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission. The HIV and AIDS Peer Education programme of the University of the Western Cape attempts to provide new ways to address an epidemic in a high risk age group that is tired of conventional approaches to HIV/AIDS education and awareness. This programme focuses on innovative, interactive approaches in addition to the larger, more comprehensive approach to HIV prevention that includes condom distribution, STI management, counselling and advocacy. Lively, creative methods like storytelling, interactive drama, computer simulation games, group discussions, slides and videos form the basis of the intervention.

An important part of this programme is to merge the methodology of peer education with HIV and AIDS content into the curriculum during the 2004 academic year. Close to 300 first year students have been exposed to this integrated course as part of their training in Psychology. Integration as an approach will be a move away from the ad hoc methodology that still characterizes so many higher education institution’s responses to the pandemic.

In addition to involvement in peer education on campus and presenting tutorials in the HIV/AIDS curriculum, a further unique aspect of this project is that peer educators will be used in surrounding schools to raise awareness and facilitate behavior change amongst learners at high schools. With its focus on peer-to-peer interaction the intervention will provide a fresh approach to HIV prevention in schools.

At the end of 2003,  a stringent selection process was used to fill the 35 peer educator positions.   The peer educators received an intensive weekend training session focusing on biomedical and psychosocial aspects of HIV and AIDS.  This formed the first of many training and supervision sessions conducted by project staff. Close monitoring and evaluation of this pilot programme form an important component of the programme activities. This should provide excellent research material on the efficacy of this type of model at a tertiary institutional level.

This project forms part of the broader Norwegian funded, South Africa Norway Tertiary Education Development Programme (SANTED). One of the themes of the SANTED programme is cooperation between institutions in the SADC region. With its focus on HIV and AIDS this project intends making a contribution to the efforts of the two Southern African countries (South Africa and Zambia) to counter the pandemic which is devastating societies, economies, higher education institutions and people within the SADC region. It is commonly accepted that tertiary institutions in the SADC region have an infection rate of between 15 and 35 %. The responsibility to be accepted by the higher education sector is crucial in terms of creating new knowledge (theories, models & practices) and the provision of leadership and guidance in the fight against HIV and AIDS.


From 2003-2005 a university-based peer education program in HIV & AIDS peer education, funded by SANTED operated in two universities in sub-Saharan Africa. Called ZAWECA the project had as its primary focus promoting institutional co-operation amongst institutions of higher learning in the SADC region with specific reference to peer education in the context of HIV & AIDS. As a pilot project the ZAWECA HIV & AIDS Peer education project provided a clear example of what can be achieved by higher education collaboration in the SADC region. This project resulted in the building of a close collaborative partnership between the two participating institutions, the development of expertise and best practice among staff and students in peer education and research, as well as impacting on student knowledge and attitudes relating to HIV and AIDS.

Based on the recommendations of the ZAWECA project, the current business plan therefore sets out to expand the HIV and AIDS peer education approach to another two SADC universities, namely, the Universities of Malawi and Namibia. This new collaboration on HIV and AIDS peer education across four sub-Saharan countries was named ZAMANAWE (the acronym made up of the first two letters in each of the institutional names translates from Zulu to English as GIVE IT A TRY). The goal of this project is to enhance institutional collaboration between the participating universities through developing, implementing and evaluating appropriate university-based HIV and AIDS peer education programmes with a strong focus on gender that equip students with lifeskills to enable them to negotiate safer sex practices.
In brief the project elements can be described as follows:
  • Peer education programmes that are well researched and designed to allow it to make contributions to the knowledge base of best practice in HIV & AIDS peer education. Programmes at the respective institutions will place a strong focus on gender and the impact thereof on the spread of HIV.
  • Institutional mentoring and the sharing of programme information and
  • A strong student focus in the project, with students being both the delivery agents and recipients. The focus of the project activities will be on developing student capacity and strong student leadership in the area of HIV & AIDS and gender.

  • Baseline research on student risk behaviors at the four participating institutions allowing comparative analyses across the four countries.

  • Collaborative research and joint report writing as a key outcome of the project.
  • Sustainable relationships between staff and students of the four participating institutions.