Assessing learning needs of KwaZulu-Natal para-legals for managing HIV/AIDS.
Sithole, Sandile Nhlanhla.
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The Constitution of South Africa outlines the way in which the country should be run and lays down different levels of government and their powers. Most importantly it sets out a list of human rights in the Bill of Rights. These rights belong equally to all individuals. Stigmatization and discrimination of people on the basis of their HIV status is a violation of their basic human rights. In South Africa a person can have his or her rights upheld in court if they are violated or threatened by an individual or institution (whether the state, private company or any other organization). Enforcing the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and/or their families, as well as countering and redressing discriminatory action, is a matter of accessing existing procedural, institutional or other resources that comprise the societal gains of democracy. However, the biggest challenge currently has to do with ordinary people's lack of awareness about their rights, and this pertains particularly to those millions of South Africans living with HIV/AIDS. This study sets out to examine the knowledge levels of para-legals currently advocating for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and/or their families in KwaZulu Natal. With an infection rate estimated to be in the region of 36% of the adult population, it is essential that providers of legal advise and advocacy in this province have sound grasp of HIV/AIDS issues. It should be noted that this study attempts to move beyond a documentation of knowledge by exploring what such para-legals perceive their actual needs for more effective management of HIV/AIDS to be. The study seeks to make recommendations towards a better and more relevant training of para-legals, one that is needs-driven and more attuned to the context and lived realities of the people whom they seek to serve.