Sunday, August 12, 2007

Reproductive Health Literacy Undermines the Spread of Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS

Reproductive Health Literacy Undermines the Spread of Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS

Anirudha Alam

Undermining the possibility of STIs, reproductive health literacy creates a safe and supportive environment for adolescents in a world with HIV/AIDS. It ensures their protection from sexual abuse, ill-believes and so-called dogmas. With particular attention to HIV/AIDS mitigation, flexible non-formal approaches for making sure reproductive health literacy should be adopted by the academic curriculum in which sustainable development and poverty alleviation would have the highest priority. In all aspects of planning and policy making, a comprehensive curriculum should be launched essentially internalizing demand driven steps to reduce stigma, discrimination and poverty brought about by HIV/AIDS. Bringing in and upgrading life skill education as well as making HIV/AIDS awareness an inbuilt chapter of the text-curriculum, qualitative reproductive health literacy promotes the culture of preventing stigma, denial and discrimination. Nowadays in the name of qualitative reproductive health literacy, it is very much necessary to incorporate HIV/AIDS into a broader health education approach and into other subjects. Adolescents are very much threatened in the aspect of HIV/AIDS due to their tremendous curiosity and immaturity. So the qualitative reproductive health literacy, first and foremost, should be ensured for adolescents any how.

More than one third of all new infections – about 4600 every day – occurs among adolescents. But in changing the course of HIV/AIDS epidemic, adolescents may play a vital role. At first they have to be empowered through reproductive health literacy in light of life skill education. Then they will be able to increase awareness of the particular vulnerabilities curbing harassment, violence and sexual abuse. They may organize committed and dexterous leadership capitalizing on social mobilization.

Adolescents girls are physiologically, socially, culturally and economically more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Sexual behavior guided by ill-believes, dogmatic social attitudes, lack of economic empowerment and equal accesses to livelihood education promote vulnerability of adolescent girls to HIV/AIDS as a whole. Gender-related social norms may diversify adolescent girls’ vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Cultural and social factors confine their choices and opportunities to get information regarding reproductive health and how to practice safe sex.

Intending to come up with a spontaneous and effective response to HIV/AIDS, it is very much necessary to have key knowledge about reproductive health and how to confront the epidemic. According to the findings of recent research works, if prevention programs are not successful as per the desired outcome, China alone will have more than 3 million adolescents with HIV/AIDS as well as India undoubtedly will have 5 million adolescents by 2010. Only far-reaching and comprehensive program integrated by reproductive health packages can foil the spread of vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.

Promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment leads to extensive awareness maintaining linkage between sexual and reproductive health (SRH), existing social issues and HIV/AIDS. Having it in mind, adolescents should be made strengthen their voices receiving skill development training to be a successful social advocate. For that reason they will be able to arrange and conduct focus group discussion, courtyard meeting, colloquium, workshop, and in-depth interview with peer group to get their views on how to protect themselves. With the help of local level implementers, adolescents’ group can take steps collectively to understand the interplay of challenging economic and social factors that brings about vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. These kinds of study oriented initiatives have to be done in a way guided by text-curriculum under the local educational institute that would make possible to generate findings consistently. In the course of exchanging views and interaction with target community people, the adolescents having reproductive health literacy may share their exclusive findings and result of message dissemination among the local policy makers and relevant stakeholders to reduce vulnerability in the community as a whole.

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: UNFPA, UNESCO, World Bank

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