year there are more and more new HIV infections,
which shows that people either aren't learning the
message about the dangers of HIV, or are unable
or unwilling to act on it. Many people are dangerously
ignorant about the virus - a survey found recently
that a third of teens thought there was a 'cure'
for AIDS. Education is an important component of
preventing the spread of HIV.
if education were completely successful, it would
still have to be an ongoing process - each generation
a new generation of people become adult and need
to know how to protect themselves from infection.
The older generations, who have hopefully already
been educated, may need the message reinforced,
and need to be kept informed, so that they are able
to protect themselves and inform the younger.
main reasons for AIDS education, the
first of which is to prevent new infections from
taking place. This can be seen as
consisting of two processes:
Giving people information about HIV - what HIV and
AIDS are, how they are transmitted, and how people
can protect themselves from infection.
Teaching people how to put this information to use
and act on it practically - how to get and use condoms,
how to suggest and practice safer sex, how to prevent
infection in a medical environment or when injecting
reason that AIDS education is needed is to improve
quality of life for HIV positive people. Too often,
AIDS education is seen as being something which
should be targeted only at people who are not infected
with HIV in order to prevent them from becoming
infected. When AIDS education with HIV positive
people is considered at all it is frequently seen
only in terms of preventing new infections by teaching
HIV+ people about the importance of not passing
on the virus. An important and commonly-neglected
aspect of AIDS education with HIV positive people
is enabling and empowering them to improve their
quality of life. HIV positive people have varying
educational needs, but among them are the need to
be able to access medical services and drug provision
and the need to be able to find appropriate emotional
and practical support and help
reason people need AIDS education is to reduce stigma
and discrimination. In many countries there is a
great deal of fear and stigmatization of people
who are HIV positive. This fear is too often accompanied
by ignorance, resentment and ultimately, anger.
Sometimes the results of prejudice and fear can
be extreme, with HIV positive people being burned
to death in India, and many families being forced
to leave their homes across the United States when
neighbors discover a family-member's positive status.
Discrimination against positive people can help
the AIDS epidemic to spread - if people are fearful
of being tested for HIV, then they are more likely
to pass the infection to someone else without knowing.
needs to be educated?
who is vulnerable to AIDS, and almost everyone is
vulnerable, unless they know how to protect themselves.
It's not only young people, injecting drug users
or gay men who become infected - the virus has affected
a cross-section of society. This means that education
ought to be aimed at all parts of society, not only
those groups who are seen as being particularly
high-risk. It is all very well to educate young
people but it's usually adults who become infected,
and in recent years there has been very little AIDS
education targeted at adults. The people who are
most urgently in need of HIV education are those
who think they're not at risk.
People who have not yet been educated and may be
at risk of becoming infected. This usually means
young people, who need to know the risks involved
in unsafe sex and drug use before they are old enough
to find out for themselves.
People who have already been educated for whom the
education was not effective. If AIDS education were
completely effective, there wouldn't be nearly so
many new infections. These infections do not only
occur amongst young people - many people who have
already experienced AIDS education continue to become
infected with HIV.
few months after we started having unprotected sex,
I fell gravely ill. . . I recovered slowly but .
. . I guess the warning signs have been there since
I fell sick earlier this year, I'm educated on HIV
and some of my symptoms literally had the warning
bells ringing inside my head. Still, the shock of
discovering my status is something I will never
wish on my worst enemy." TK-anonomous
Everyone needs to learn how and why not to discriminate
against positive people. People who are not HIV
positive must learn about how the virus is transmitted
in order that they are able to protect themselves
from infection. At the same time, they must also
learn how the virus is not transmitted. People need
to know that they cannot become infected from such
things as sharing food, towels or toilets. This
will help to reduce discrimination against positive
people by reducing ignorance and fear.
People who are already infected also require education.
Initially, this must involve an element of counseling
and support, and must teach them how about living
well with HIV, the tests they may need to have and
the medications they may need to take. They must
also learn about HIV transmission and safer sex,
for two reasons - they need to know how to live
positively without passing the virus on to anyone
else, and they need to know how to avoid coming
into contact with a strain of the virus which differs
from the one they are already have.
The only people who do not fall into one of these
groups are those who have received AIDS education,
have taken it in, and have the resources to turn
knowledge into action. One group who should hopefully
fall into this category are AIDS educators. This
may seem obvious, but in many cases, teachers may
require teaching themselves. They may be called
upon to act as AIDS educators when they themselves
have little experience or knowledge of the subject.
Peer educators must also receive training, even
if they themselves are HIV+. Information for teachers
and HIV educators will be found here.
AIDS education that had been done up until now had
been fully effective, then there wouldn't have been
over five million new infections in 2004. It is
clear that the campaigns carried out so far have
failed to prevent the spread of the virus, so the
message needs to be repeated, in different forms,
until people appreciate it, or until, hopefully,
education is no longer needed.