Sunday, August 12, 2007

Building Life Skill through Reproductive Health Literacy Reduces Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS

Building Life Skill through Reproductive Health Literacy
Reduces Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS

Anirudha Alam

Reproductive health literacy has a sustainable preventive impact to promote a healthy lifestyle as well as responsible behavior. It is among the most powerful tools for reducing adolescents’ vulnerability to HIV/AIDS through providing necessary knowledge, stimulating positive attitudes and bringing about life skills. Life skill engendered from reproductive health literacy mobilizes efforts targeting to lessen high risk behavior.

Best practices may be adopted undoubtedly through peer education resulting in positive attitude within positive environment. An effective reproductive health literacy approach is multi-sectoral and integrated to address all factors that increase vulnerability as for HIV/AIDS. Vulnerable sexual behavior nourished by ill believes, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, peer pressure and so on deprives people to enhance ability to prevent STIs. Ensuring to attain life skill, reproductive health literacy fosters analytical thinking and healthy habits. Adolescents having qualitative reproductive health literacy are very much responsible to gather adequate knowledge and potential expertise to curb infection of HIV/AIDS.

Adolescents need skills necessarily to practice safe behavior through reproductive health literacy with a view to creating self-esteem extensively to foil undesired peer and adult pressure. Thus they may have such core life skills as negotiation, ability of working together, self-awareness, decision-making, critical thinking, bargaining and diversity of creativity through gender session, orientation, training, courtyard meeting for exchanging views and experiences.

Adolescent girls are very much vulnerable suffering from discrimination and depriving of rights due to their social and cultural values and ill believes. Consequently they are mostly drop-out from formal education and made resort to risky behavior. Lack of access to HIV/AIDS information and prevention services provokes them to practice unsafe sexual behavior.

Adolescents, especially the girls, have to have exclusive opportunity to be aware of HIV/AIDS through preventive education that they are able to maintain their future partner’s reproductive and sexual health. Parents often feel embarrassed and hesitate to discuss with their adolescents to teach them about STIs frankly due to their strong religious believes, superstition practices and moral resistance.

Qualitative reproductive health literacy integrating preventive education to promote life skill ensures the social empowerment of adolescents. Academic curriculum should be designed and conducted to stimulate the creativity of adolescent girls through the holistic approach of income generating activities (IGA) internalizing gender awareness. Thus the impact of qualitative reproductive health literacy will sustain comprehensively making them socially empowered. After a certain period completing their secondary education, they will be able to influence their community as a persuasive pressure group to be aware of HIV/AIDS. In the name of women empowerment, this kind of life skill has a far-reaching and promising development output.

Adolescents have the consecutive acceptance and access to the respective community people. They may organize community based organizations (CBOs) in order to raise awareness. In the course of ongoing community mobilization through CBOs, adolescents will be able efficiently to set the community people thinking about HIV/AIDS prevention. Eventually the knowledge on HIV/AIDS can spread quickly and effectively as per desired outcome. Leaving a long lasting mark upon the community people, thus community based HIV/AIDS prevention program will be expanded by way of advocacy and behavioral change communication (BCC) on a great scale. In this aspect, the adolescents have to be trained up to conduct intensive interpersonal communication (IPC) that they may present information on HIV/AIDS prevention in a brief, dramatic and memorable fashion.

It is the utmost important to realize the potential that the academic curriculum has to fulfill the right of adolescents to reproductive health literacy as for attaining life skill. Then the aftermath makes them committed to the campaign of HIV/AIDS prevention seriously.

Anirudha Alam
Deputy Director
(Information & Development Communication)
BEES (Bangladesh Extension Education Services)
183, Lane 2, Eastern Road, New DOHS
Mohakhali, Dhaka 1206
Phone: 01718342876, 9889732, 9889733 (office), 8050514 (res.)

Ref: UNESCO, World Bank

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