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HIV/AIDS Prevention

Students in ASPnet schools in Gambia, South Africa and Uganda have provided artwork and messages for the new education kit “Living and Learning in a World with HIV/AIDS”

ASPnet students contribute to new HIV/AIDS preventive education kit
Preventive education, particularly in the field of HIV-AIDS is amongst the ASPnet priorities for the 21st-Century. ASPnet students recently contributed to a new education kit, produced by UNAIDS, which consists of three booklets promoting non-discrimination and HIV/AIDS awareness in schools.

An increasing number of young people are both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. According to UNAIDS, in 2001, nearly 12 million young people aged 15-24 around the world – more than 7.3 million young women and 4.5 million young men – were believed to have HIV infection. About half of all new infections daily are occurring among young people.

School is also affected by the pandemic. HIV infection among teachers, school staff and students have seriously affected education. The responsibility of caring for infected family members may cause young people, especially girls, to miss school frequently, or even drop out. Teachers may often be absent in order to attend funerals of those who have died from HIV/AIDS or take care of infected family members. HIV-infected teachers may continue teaching in spite of declining health.

What can students do?
Young people are concerned about HIV/AIDS and how it affects their daily lives. Adopting the following attitudes and behaviours can be helpful:

Be informed and act responsibly: By participating fully in classroom discussions about HIV/AIDS, and by being well informed and acting responsibly, young people can help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS for their own and future generations.

Respect others: HIV-positive people can look and feel healthy for a long time. They should be treated with support and respect. Discriminating against classmates with HIV/AIDS violates human rights. People who are discriminated against often feel lonely and depressed. Fear of discrimination can even prevent them seeking help.

Show care and support: There are many simple ways to show support to HIV-positive people, by treating them with kindness and understanding. It is safe to work, play and learn alongside someone who is infected by HIV. Those who have a family member with HIV/AIDS, or who have lost a loved one to AIDS, also need support. These are difficult experiences for anyone.

Pupils expressed these attitudes in their own words:

“We should break the silence through dialogue using class discussions and school assemblies.”

“Young people living with HIV/AIDS should be allowed to go to school.”

“Teachers and other staff who are HIV-positive should not be forced to leave their jobs.”

“If you get to know that someone is infected with HIV, you should not spread this information unnecessarily. This person has a right to privacy.”

“We can still play together, even if we have AIDS.”

Did you know?

Anybody can get HIV/AIDS. It’s not correct to say that it only affects certain people or certain types of people. But certain behaviours or sanitary conditions carry the risk of infection. By knowing and understanding the ways that people can become infected and the behaviours that may put them at risk, we can greatly reduce our own chances of infection, and in turn help to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The most common ways of contracting HIV are:

through unprotected sexual intercourse - without using a condom properly - with an HIV-infected person;

by using instruments – such as those used for ear piercing, tattoos or circumcision – which have been used on an HIV-infected person and not been properly cleaned;

by using needles or syringes – for example, to inject drugs – which have been used by someone infected with HIV and not properly cleaned;

from an HIV-infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding;

through transfusion of infected blood.

Adapted from “Living and Learning in a World with HIV/AIDS”
Contact: qualityandhivaids@unesco.org

Author(s) .
Publication Year 2004-09-02 3:20 pm

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