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Thursday, July 1st, 2010 - 13 comments

Let’s talk about HIV & education

The experts at the upcoming AIDS conference in Vienna want to know what you think about HIV Education. Let them know your opinions by answering four simple questions.


My name is Lindsay Menard-Freeman, and I’m the Program Officer at the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS.  I have been working on youth activism, HIV advocacy, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US for about 5 years now.  I believe that giving young people the information and resources they need to protect themselves is at the center of a comprehensive approach to HIV prevention.  When provided with accurate sexuality education, young people can be agents of change.

Below, I have four questions for you related to sexuality education.  Take a look, and let me know what you think!!!

The questions

  • Currently only 40% of boys and 38% of girls aged 15-24 have correct knowledge of how to prevent HIV – in your country, what do you think are the main barriers for young people to access information about HIV?
  • How would you grade your school’s response to HIV prevention?
  • In what way has sexuality education affected your knowledge of HIV and sexuality?
  • What are the main challenges to the way your school is dealing with HIV?

Join the interactive conversation

This summer, from July 18 to July 23, a conference on HIV/AIDS will be hosted in Vienna. This conference will be attended by policy makers, people working in the field, and people living with HIV. Even though you can’t participate physically, you can participate and have your say online.

During the conference, there will be an interactive discussion hosted by UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, and WHO entitled: “Right For You! Creating Game Changing Strategies for HIV and Young People.”

Leave comment, have your say

Please leave a comment below and reply to the four questions. We want to know what issues, comments and questions young people have about HIV and education. A panel of experts will be answering some of the best responses  and comments. They include Dr. Doug Kirby, an HIV researcher and author of The International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education and Darlington Muyambwa, a youth activist and programme manager of an organization providing information on HIV to students in Zimbabwe.

It’s an exciting way to interact with the international HIV/AIDS community, so join the Conversation! Your comments will also be part of a survey on HIV prevention. Let us know what you think about these important questions related to condoms by commenting on this blog-post.

The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (13)

Doug Ragan
Friday 2nd July, 2010, 5:11pm

Hi Lindsay. Thanks for your great blog post.

In response to your first question regarding the main barriers, I think one of them is the stigma of HIV AIDS, and one way to overcome that stigma is through peer to peer education. It matters little if we have all the answers in the world; if young people feel unsafe, then no amount of talking will educate them.

A key aspect of overcoming the stigma and feeling safe, is the access to a safe space. UN-HABITAT, the agency I have been working with, has worked with cities to develop ONe Stop Youth Resource Centres. These centres are safe places for peers to gather in cities and slums; cities and slums notoriously provide few places for youth to get together. One of the most successful programs in all the Centres so far established have been the VCT (Volunteer, Counseling and Testing) clinics.

So I believe that the establishment of safe places that engage youth in peer to peer programs is one of the most important steps in tackling HIV AIDs.

samuel nazareth
Saturday 3rd July, 2010, 7:44am

* There is no political will because of racisim and nonsecularism
* Not so good
* gender equality, empowerment
* Empowering the adolescence for gender equality and community service

sophia Komba
Monday 5th July, 2010, 4:24am

the barrie to acce HIV/AIDS education- the education syllubus do not include the education on HIV/AID, so itleave young girls and boys blindly. the family do not provide the education since they think is too early for them to know about it, which is agaist culture. only few people have been reached may be throung CSO and NGOs campaigns.
is very low, is below standard compared to the speed of HIV/AID spread among young girls and boys.
there is no sexuallty education in our schools, can provided informaly, the iffectviness and useful have differnt value depends on the targeted society.
no specific guideline on teaching children about HIV/ADS education. young girl and boys still are not careful in potecting themseves from HIV/AIDS

SMA
Monday 5th July, 2010, 6:36am

Question 1:

I think culture plays a big role in HIV/AIDS prevention information and awareness. In most cultures (speaking from an African perspective) sex is a taboo, it is a topic that is not openly discussed. Teachers are recluntant to talk to their students about sex and as well as parents. The mentality of if i talk to them about sex they will go have sex if i dont talk to them about it then they wont know that it exists. I think we have to look at the bigger picture, some of these parents dont even have the full knowledge of what HIV/AIDS, so how could they educate their children when they vaguely know about this issue same goes for the teachers.

Question 2:

Looking back to when i was in High school, we never had an HIV prevention class, only one teacher tried to talk to us about sex and it was during Biology class in Jss3 (Grade 9), even in the school that i attended in Canada we never had a sex ed class, it was also the male Biology teacher that showed the class how to use a condom - the banana demonstration.

Question 3:

I am 25 now and i still tell you that no one talks to me about this, i have a degree in health and thats how i have kind of educated myself on this and i still need to learn more.
In what way has sexuality education affected your knowledg

Richie Adewusi
Wednesday 7th July, 2010, 9:09am

Hi Lindsay,
Well, I suppose SMA and Doug Ragan have both set a backdrop to my contribution.

Like SMA has said, culture, tradition (and I should add, religion)have given discussions about sexuality issues with young people, a 'taboo status'. And it is true, that young people would love to have 'safe houses' where they can interact act share information(including sexuality) with themselves.

In the last 12 or so years, our work at Youthaid Initiatives in Nigeria have focused in these areas, and from SMA's mention of JSS, I believe she is from Nigeria.

In 1998, Youthaid Initiatives(formerlly Youthaid Projects Inc.), convened a one-day national youth summit-Youth Agenda Summit(YAS), to get young people aged 10-24 from across Nigeria(75 of them) to discuss and come up with suggestions for what they want done as well as what they can do about sexuality information/education(including HIV/AIDS).

At the end of the summit, they came up with a 20 points communique. 5 of the 20 points was emphatic about their wanting to get sexuality information/education from their parents! But like SMA has said, this was a huge challenge considering culture and religion!

They also said they wanted platforms through which they can interact with themselves and share information. As such, they requested that the summit be held annually.

We took up these challenges at Youthaid, holding the summit annually till 2007, when we suspended it due to lack of funds.

As for the role of parents in giving their young ones sexuality information/education, we went ahead to design and produce tools and platform through which parents could get the information and skill with whcih to give sexuality information/education to their young ones in culturally acceptable formats. This led to our designing the Parent-child Communication programme that we got assistance from the Ducth Embassy in Nigeria to run a pilot(10 Penticostal Missions) and scale up (Community Leaders in 20 LGAs)for in Lagos State.

We also developed a peer education model, leveraging on entertainment-PIPE, Participatory Interactive Peer Education- in response to their request for platforms through which they can interact to share sexuality information with their peers.

I agree with Doug Ragan, on the 'safe house' concept. But building permanent structures for youth-friendly services is very expensive. The PIPE model is far cheaper beacause it does not require permanent housing, but is designed as an entertaiment-education programme using multi-media equipment that can be moved around by young people themselves, to reach other young people where they would normally meet..school, church, village square, football playing ground, using the NARROWCAST concept.

Presntly, we are looking for parnership support to distribute about 100,000 packs of the Family Life Education card through PTAs and other parent groups in Nigeria. Particpating parents' groups would have PIPE run for their young ones in the schools or community centres of their choice. The young people get to interact with themselves as they have requested, and they also get to play the game at home with their parents.

If we do get your email address Lindsay, we would be glad to send you the full communique of the Youth Agenda Summit 1998, and full project profile for PIPE, including the parental involvement component.

You can also view my parenting blog at the website listed above. It is one of the tool put in place to addvocate for parent to feel free to get the information, skills and time to share sexuality information with their young ones. We are aare following that up with a pilot on setting up of PARENTING RESOURCE CENTRES, starting from Abuja and Ado Ekiti, to be 'clearinghouses' from which parents can accsess materials and skills for parent-child commuincation on sexual and reproductive health issues, for the benefit of their young ones.

Richie Adewusi
Wednesday 7th July, 2010, 9:32am

Hi Lindsay,
Well, I suppose SMA and Doug Ragan have both set a backdrop to my contribution.

Like SMA has said, culture, tradition (and I should add, religion) have given discussions about sexuality issues with young people, a 'taboo status'. And it is true, that young people would love to have 'safe houses' where they can interact and share information (including sexuality) with themselves.

In the last 12 or so years, our work at Youthaid Initiatives in Nigeria have focused in these areas, and from SMA's mention of JSS, I believe she is from Nigeria.

In 1998, Youthaid Initiatives(formerly Youthaid Projects Inc.), convened a one-day national youth summit-Youth Agenda Summit(YAS), to get young people aged 10-24 from across Nigeria(75 of them) to discuss and come up with suggestions for what they want done as well as what they can do about sexuality information/education(including HIV/AIDS).

At the end of the summit, they came up with a 20 points communiqué. 5 of the 20 points was emphatic about their wanting to get sexuality information/education from their parents! But like SMA has said, this was a huge challenge considering culture and religion!

They also said they wanted platforms through which they can interact with themselves and share information. As such, they requested that the summit be held annually.

We took up these challenges at Youthaid, holding the summit annually till 2007, when we suspended it due to lack of funds.

As for the role of parents in giving their young ones sexuality information/education, we went ahead to design and produce tools and platform through which parents could get the information and skill with which to give sexuality information/education to their young ones in culturally acceptable formats, including books and a FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION CARD GAME. This led to our designing the Parent-child Communication programme that we got assistance from the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria to run a pilot(10 Pentecostal Missions) and scale up (Community Leaders in 20 LGAs)for in Lagos State.

We also developed a peer education model, leveraging on entertainment-PIPE, Participatory Interactive Peer Education- in response to their request for platforms through which they can interact to share sexuality information with their peers.

I agree with Doug Ragan, on the 'safe house' concept. But building permanent structures for youth-friendly services is very expensive. The PIPE model is far cheaper because it does not require permanent housing, but is designed as an entertainment-education programme using multi-media equipment that can be moved around by young people themselves, to reach other young people where they would normally meet...School, church, village square, football playing ground, using the NARROWCAST concept.

Presently, we are looking for partnership support to distribute about 100,000 packs of the Family Life Education card through PTAs and other parent groups in Nigeria. Participating parents' groups would have PIPE run by their young ones in the schools or community centres of their choice. The young people get to interact with themselves as they have requested, and they also get to play the game at home with their parents.

If we do get your email address Lindsay, we would be glad to send you the full communiqué of the Youth Agenda Summit 1998, and full project profile for PIPE, including the parental involvement component.

You can also view my parenting blog at the website listed above. It is one of the tool put in place to advocate for parent to feel free to get the information, skills and time to share sexuality information with their young ones. We are following that up with a pilot on setting up of PARENTING RESOURCE CENTRES, starting from Abuja and Ado Ekiti, to be 'clearinghouses' from which parents can access materials and skills for parent-child communication on sexual and reproductive health issues, for the benefit of their young ones.

Vanessa
Friday 9th July, 2010, 8:34pm

1)In my Canadian community there is still, unfortunately, much stigma surrounding HIV. No one wants to associate themselves with it, or speak about it as a personal issue. If spoken about, it is spoken of as something apart from oneself. It is viewed as a damper on sexual freedom. I come from a very liberal left-wing university that offers many support groups to various communities within my city. To my knowledge, there has never been a support group available for an individual with HIV. So not only is there stigma and an intent disassociation from it among individuals here, there are little to no resources available for people who have HIV or want to support someone with HIV.

2) No school I have attended has ever provided info on HIV prevention

3) Any sexuality education I have been a part of in school provided no info on HIV (I attended public schools). All info I acquired about HIV has been from personal effort. However, sexuality education did emphasize a value in exercising sexual freedom— the main motto was “practice safe sex”, which talked about different kinds of birth control and contraceptives. “Safe sex” meant not getting pregnant. STI’s were noted to exist, but none were talked about in depth or even named. There was definitely an ignorance portrayed from the educators to the realities of their “free sex for all” message.

4) Probably a lot of the challenges relate to what I noted in question one.

Do you want to know your HIV status? « Conversations for a Better World
Friday 16th July, 2010, 3:30pm

[...] Let’s talk about HIV and education! [...]

achut
Saturday 17th July, 2010, 2:09am

to develop relation from JC school in Nepal

tony savage
Wednesday 21st July, 2010, 10:31am

Hi,

I did a 3 year Tour of Duty with the UNFPA in Zambia in the remote rural areas. Fantastic organisation - was effective despite G W Bush and his administrations efforts to marginalise us.

The problem with tackling HIV/AIDS in Sothern Africa is gender inequality.

Empower women and HIV and many other problems will go away.

gimme5
Sunday 22nd August, 2010, 6:50pm

We need high school students and university students and volunteers
to teach ethics and values in community centres, children's homes, summer camps,sunday schools etc. HIV EDUCATION follows within the question cards. This is excellent for INFORMAL education, done after hours, on weekends, and during vacations. This will allow the peer educators to gain leadership skills, preparing educational and fun programs, and getting their passion and enthusiasm to rub off on the learners. This can create peer educators amongst the learners. Vienna 2010 stressed that a number of techniques are necessary to achieve this aim. GIMME 5 at www.gimme5.org will give you insight into this. It is ideal for grassroots level, and if necessary make the question cards easier. 2 education professors and 2 honors students enjoyed playing with grade 5-7 questions!
Impress the powers that be, particularly those who donate money to provide this tool to tried and trusted organisations on a pilot study basis to satisfy themselves that the program is viable.
Viena 2010 has stressed the need for NEW TOOLS in HIV education.
At the Mexico World AIDS conference keynote speaker and chairman of Champions for AIDS for Africa, ex president Festus Mogae of Botswana stated " We are URGENTLY looking for an INNOVATIVE and INVIGORATING educational program for the prevention of HIV." (That was 4 years ago).
May I quote the late Michael Jackson in his world famous song "We are the world , we are the children. Lets make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race. THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING, LETS NOT FORGET THE LIVING etc."
I lectured at the African AIDS Youth Conference in Dakar Senegal in December 2008 on the topic "Holistic techniques in the prevention of HIV" probably the most important subject in the world until a cure is found. No member of WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO or the conference committee was there to listen. Most of the youth leaders who saw the program felt they could use it but could not afford the $20 cost.
If there is anybody at any of these organisations who GENUINELY believes in HIV education please forward this email to them. I have sent a similar letter to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama!

mtaani vct
Thursday 14th October, 2010, 2:09pm

we are volunteers working and living in the largest slum in the world helping the local community know their HIV/AIDS status,with a population of over 800,000 people the demand and need for HIV/AIDS counseling and testing is there,thus we setting the centre to help people know.
with divers culture and tradition we are prone to different myths and beliefs from the different communities that live here-we help by giving updated,correct and fact information about HIV/AIDS. we also help those infected meet others so that they can talk,encourage and share with other,we have a support group that meets once every month.

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Guest Editor

Lindsay Menard-Freeman

Program Officer, GYCA

About

Lindsay is the Program Officer at the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, a youth network of over 4,500 young people working to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in their communities. While completing her M.A. program at Columbia University in Human Rights Studies, Lindsay served as a Program Intern at GYCA through the summer/fall of 2008. Her focus within human rights is gender/women's rights and public health. She has conducted research on sex workers' rights and HIV/AIDS, trafficking into forced prostitution, reproductive rights, and sexual health. Lindsay graduated cum laude from the University of New Hampshire in 2006 with a double major in English and Women's Studies. While in New Hampshire, she worked at a non-profit community women's health clinic as a counselor and, as a result of this experience, Lindsay's interest in reproductive health and rights started to grow. She is excited to continue working in this sector by joining GYCA's staff.

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