Graduate Alive is a programme to train peer counselors in Higher Education Institutions in South Africa. This is a partnership between the Family Health International and Hope Africa as part of a fight against HIV and Aids in Higher Education.

The Programme is a successor to a similar awareness programme funded by FHI called the Mayihlome programme where Student Organizations were involved in raising awareness about HIV and AIDS. The Graduate Alive Programme takes this  campaign to a higher level to deal more with treatment and  care aspects of the pandemic.


Currently, most efforts addressing sexuality and reproductive health needs for young people are focused on out-of-school youth and those in secondary school in South Africa. Young adults at institutions of higher learning represent a special group at risk as they are often left unsupervised by both parents and teachers, who are under the assumption that they are mature enough to protect their sexual and reproductive health. Available evidence suggests that these young men and women have high rates of STI and unintended pregnancy, an indication that they are not yet equipped with the knowledge and skills required to protect themselves from these adverse outcomes. 

In FY 2005, in consultation with the South Africa Universities Vice Chancellors Association (SAUVCA) and the Department of Education, FHI implemented a project on three university campuses in South Africa: University of the Western Cape, University of the Free State, Qwaqwa campus, and University of Limpopo, Medunsa campus.  Each campus contributed to the development of the AB/life skills curriculum, which was subsequently implemented on the three campuses.  After the training, PEs recruited six students each to take part in on-going behavior change communication (BCC) groups on their campus, reaching in total 468 students.

In FY 2006 the project could not get funding.

In FY 2007 project was refunded continuing with the same universities, QWA- QWA, MEDUNSA and University of Western Cape campuses.  The project is incorporation other prevention strategies including correct consistent use of condoms hence now ABC. FHI SA identified a partner Bokamoso barona and Association for Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS) to implement the project within these campuses. Using the same curriculum, Bokamoso Barona    redesigned with educative graphics Peer Educators (PE) were trained (67). Following the training each PE  was expected to reach at least 10 students and other communities with behavior change messages on campus and outreach campaigns managed to reach  3071 student by September 2008.

In FY 2008 the project is expected to continue with activities on these campuses and beyond reaching more students and communities.

Life skills  training aim to enhance the students’ ability to make responsible sexual health decisions and adopt behaviors that will keep them free of STI and HIV infection, as well as avoid unintended pregnancies.  The curriculum included sessions on AB, secondary abstinence, values clarification, self-esteem, communication, gender equity, decision making and negotiation, and utilized participatory learning techniques. The curriculum complemented the universities’ existing peer education program, which provides basic information about prevention of HIV/AIDS. Interaction within groups  provides a safe place to explore strategies for adopting and strengthening the AB/life skills in their personal lives.  Students are able to support each others’ behavior change process, including seeking counseling and testing (CT). Through one-on-one and group interaction, the PEs took advantage of a variety of regularly scheduled campus events—such as orientation week, condom week, and STI awareness week—to reach additional students with basic information on STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies and how to protect oneself and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The program also promoted referrals between the PEs and student health or community health services for CT, family planning (FP) as well as treatment care and support.

In FY 2009, the project is expected to continue with activities on these targeted Campuses:  QWA- QWA, MEDUNSA and Cape Peninsula University of Technology and beyond reaching more students and communities.

The training will continue with refresher training workshops for the existing peer educators, coordinator trainings with university employed peer education coordinators. Recruitment and Training of new peer educators will be expected to start in July 2009.

The expected number of peer educators to be trained in 2009 is train 36 + 1 coordinator Peer Educators (PEs) per campus, on Abstinence/Befaithful Condom use (ABC) providing them with knowledge, life skills on STI/HIV prevention and reproductive health including contraceptive use. Total =

  • Each trained peer educator to reach at least 25 students with ABC/life skills messages, i.e 111 trained X 25 = 2775 students.

It is expected that HOPE Africa will be working with ACTS  Association for Catholic Tertiary Students on campuses where ACTS has peer educator project presence.    


With  PEPFAR funding received in November 2008,  FHI SA in collaboration with implementing partners (Hope Africa and ACTS), universities, department of education and other partners working on these campuses, will continue to work with the three universities: Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Free State- Qwaqwa campus and University of Limpopo- Medunsa campus.

The previously developed curriculum will be updated based on program experience and feedback from the PEs. New content areas will include, condom usage, family planning and expanded section on gender, particularly transactional and cross-generational sex, and involving men as change agents. Specific activities include:
1) Continue to incorporate ABC/life skills program into existing peer education work plans in a cost-effective manner;
2) Conduct ABC/life skills training for all PEs participating in the program;
3) Provide refresher trainings to strengthen basic peer education/facilitation skills;
4) Develop, standardize job aids and  other M&E tools for PEs to use in small groups;
5) Conduct supervision skills training for and provide TA to supervisors to help support PEs and the BCC group process;
6) Build and strengthen relationships between PEs and student health services, and formalize referral links to health services; and
7) Monitor ABC/life skills and BCC group process and reporting.

 Expected outcomes

  • Increased # of students who have specific information on ABC strategies
  • Increased human capacity development through ongoing training of ABC/life skills
  • Increased # of students seeking and completing CT
  • Increased student demand for FP
  • University commitment to sustain active support of the peer education program

The program will be incorporated within existing STI/HIV prevention intervention programs on university campuses. Past experience, as described above, has demonstrated the feasibility of this project.

Potential for scaling up/or replication
The project aims to reach as many students within and outside campus boundaries, as well as youth out of school and at adjacent tertiary institutions through campaigns and other community outreach programs. The experiences and lessons learned through project implementation will serve as a platform to inform replication and scale up to reach greater numbers of young adults in additional institutions of higher learning.  The involvement of  partners like HOPE Africa and the Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS) drawing from their experiences will allow possibilities for scaling up. 

For More On ABC ( Abstain Be Faithfully and Condomise) messages please visit the following links:

The Following manual is a toll to assist peer counselors in the work that they have to do in being a support to their fellow students.Please click here to download the maual.

If you have any questions on the manual please email Precious Magogodi at

A to Z of the basics of the disease and how people can live with it positively

Visit the following links

Centre for the Study of Aids – University of Pretoria

What is HIV?
HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that is known to result in AIDS. This virus may be transmitted from one individual to another through sexual and blood-to-blood contact. HIV positive pregnant women may also transfer this virus to their baby during pregnancy, delivery or through breast-feeding.

What is AIDS? How is it caused?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. An HIV positive person may be given a diagnosis of AIDS if he or she develops one of the AIDS indicator illnesses defined by the Centre of Disease Control. Even HIV-positive individuals without any serious illnesses can be said to have AIDS depending on the results of certain blood tests. Studies have discovered that most individuals with HIV may carry the virus for years before the immune system is weak enough for AIDS to develop.

What does a positive result mean?
If a person tests positive for HIV, it does not mean that the person has AIDS. The human immunodeficiency virus if present in the body is known to weaken the immune system so that it becomes difficult to fight against particular infections. People with a healthy immune system easily control many diseases that may be life threatening for those with HIV. When the immune system is weakened to a critical extent, medical intervention may be needed to prevent or treat such illnesses. 

How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?
It can take anywhere from between a few months to several years for AIDS to develop. This time differs for various individuals depending on factors such as a person's health position and health related activities.

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  • The Khomanani  Campaign of Government

The Khomanani Campaign, ‘caring together for life’, is a Government mass media and communications initiative that aims to reduce new HIV infections and increase treatment, care and support for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. This dynamic campaign involves wide-ranging use of mass media, public relations and social mobilisation.

The vision is all about developing simple, innovative and effective messages that will continuously promote healthy living and contribute significantly to the acceleration of HIV prevention and treatment, as well as care and support among all South Africans. Khomanani has run various campaigns such as Youth, Support, Positive Living, STI, Tuberculosis and Health Worker Excellence Campaigns. It has community communication teams and built a sound research base for its interventions Future campaigns will be centred on five integrated focus areas: accelerated prevention, TB and HIV, Treatment Care and Support, Nutrition and Health Promotion. Apart from radio and television campaigns, Khomanani encourages public participation through national awareness days and provides free print materials through its Red Ribbon Resource Centre (RRRC) (011 880 0405). The various booklets, leaflets and posters cover topics such as VCT, how to deal with the results of an HIV test, HIV and AIDS and treatment, living with HIV and taking ART, pregnancy and HIV, prevention, care and treatment TB, caring for children and those suffering from AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, education and awareness for youth, and various healthcare workers guides. There is a toll-free National AIDS Helpline on 0800 012 322 where counsellors have been providing South Africans with answers to their HIV and AIDS questions since 1991. Treatment advice is given by professional nurses, who also provide relevant specialised medical referrals.

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