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Empowering the youth with HIV/AIDS education

Jul 28, 2009

A latest manual from UNAIDS, A Strategic Approach: HIV & AIDS and Education, brings out the need for enriching young minds with the basics of HIV/AIDS virus. Aimed at policymakers and practitioners, it shows how quality learning can help to mitigate the impact of the disease.

A Strategic Approach: HIV & AIDS and Education

Publisher: UNAIDS, May 2009

Education can play a critical role in the global challenge to HIV simply by “doing more of what it is doing already and doing it better”, and ensuring that all children have access to good quality learning.

UNAIDS

A new publication by the UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Education explores on what is already known and what needs to be learned about expanding the education sector’s response to the epidemic.

The report, an extensive update on a previous 2003 publication, highlights the fact that education in itself provides protection against the virus and that more and better schooling should therefore be the first line of the response. There is an emphasis on ‘knowing your epidemic’ so that each response is tailor-made to fit the local epidemiological reality.

It argues two central objectives:

  • The prevention of HIV, and
  • The mitigation of the impact of AIDS.

The document is primarily focused on school-based learning but it recognises that many of the young people most at risk have often never been to school or have dropped out.

This demonstrates the importance not only of reaching out-of-school young people but of enlarging the provision of education, making sure more girls attend school and that greater numbers of children make the transition from primary to secondary institutions.

Education reduces the vulnerability of girls, and each year of schooling offers greater protection benefits. The report contends that young people should be given access to the full range of information and resources so that they can protect themselves effectively.

This requires that curriculum and learning materials be available in clear and understandable language and that HIV and sexuality education be delivered in an age-appropriate and culturally sensitive manner.

Education should “comprehensively cover” such issues as relationships, sexual networks (including same-sex relations) and drug use. The new publication champions the need for holistic learning about the virus that facilitates the acquisition, competencies, attitudes and behavioural changes essential for healthy lifestyles.

Source : UNAIDS
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