Sunday, August 12, 2007

Reducing HIV/AIDS vulnerability among adolescents

Reducing HIV/AIDS vulnerability among adolescents

Anirudha Alam

To reduce HIV/AIDS vulnerability among adolescents, there is a need to develop strategies and methods for effective curriculum focusing on sex education and life skills especially. Internalizing more participatory learning-teaching method, it is felt that a stronger integration of prevention education vis-à-vis sex & reproductive health approaches is essential for improving the high-quality HIV prevention & care. It is estimated that there are 1.2 billion adolescents in the world. Near about eighty seven percent of these adolescents live in the developing countries. More than eighty five percent adolescents of Bangladesh do not know what reproductive health is and how to practice safe sex. Most of them are not aware of how to undermine the vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. To make them free from such encumbrance as HIV/AIDS, we have to ensure a healthy and promising environment. It is believed that if the adolescents have qualitative reproductive health literacy ultimately HIV/AIDS prevention programs initiated by GOs and NGos will be successful.

Only effective education can ensure qualitative reproductive health literacy. This kind of literacy helps adolescents analyze thoroughly basic information, core messages, values and praxis related to HIV/AIDS prevention. Simultaneously they are able to inculcate caring and supportive attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). They possess the basic facts and information bringing about acquisition of knowledge and development of attitudes, values, skills and practices (KAVSP) as to undermining the spread of HIV/AIDS. Consequently they have profound awareness on practicing safe sex, use of condoms, gender equity, harmful effect of early marriage, premarital sex and unplanned pregnancy.

Reducing HIV/AIDS vulnerability among adolescents may be promoted auspiciously through evaluating the attitudes and values within community based social norms/beliefs, cooperation and teamwork. From the salad days, adolescents have to be guided by active and participatory learning that they may analyze, study ideas, solve problems and apply what they learn. It is important to ensure that active learning would be fast-paced, enjoyable and personally engaging. In this regard, cooperative learning may play a vital role to make the adolescents aware of HIV/AIDS significantly. It is one kind of effective group approaches with a view to learning with common objectives, mutual rewards, shared resources and complementary roles. Through this approach, group members are stimulated to help each other to master the lesson or activity. Thus an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect are established. Eventually the learning environment is warm as well as adolescents are made to express their views, opinions, attitudes and behaviors freely.

Adolescence is the prime and sensitive period of so many physical, emotional and cognitive developments. So adolescents have to experience many changes unexpectedly. In most cases, they remain unaware of how to efficiently cope with these kinds of physical and psychological changes. Attitudes to sexuality are being developed gradually during puberty. In this time, if adolescents are misguided or deprived of acquiring reproductive health literacy they will suffer all the time in their lives. There is no doubt that sexual maturity leads to happiness and fulfillment in future personal and social relationships. So there is no alternative for adolescents to learn about issues related to reproductive health from parents, teachers and other elders for being able to understand and develop a healthy attitude.

Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS is skyrocketing in the developing countries jeopardized by lack of qualitative reproductive health literacy among the adolescents. But reproductive health literacy itself offers one of the key hopes against HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as its influential eventualities. In fighting the pandemic, reproductive health literacy comprising transfer of skills and attitudes to reduce adolescents’ vulnerabilities to HIV/AIDS is the most effective means. It is seriously necessary to reduce the fear of HIV/AIDS any how. Reproductive health literacy can do a lot to combat HIV/AIDS facilitating adolescents in attaining the knowledge, attitudes and skills that they need to delay sexual intercourse, reduce their number of sex partners, prevent illicit drug/substance use and avoid infection by using condoms.

The academic curriculum of the developing countries like Bangladesh should provide adolescents with opportunities to learn and practice life skills, such as decision-making and communication skills, which can strengthen other important areas of early life development. It is expected that different aspects of inclusive HIV/AIDS/STI study must be built-in into all suitable subject areas, such as reproductive health, human rights & legal aids, home economics, gender development & women empowerment, social studies and science.

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.)

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