education programmes should reach everyone—especially young people,
among whom about half of all new HIV infections are occurring. The best
educational programmes seek to empower women by providing them with
information, skills and services that help them protect themselves.
• If HIV/AIDS
preventive education is to be effective, it must occur through all avenues
of education (formal and non-formal), through schools and through broader
community channels with strong political support. It should also match
the various linguistic, social and cultural realities of the groups
• Uganda has
cut its HIV prevalence rates significantly—from an estimated 14% in
the early 1990s to around 8% in 2000—thanks to extensive preventive
education campaigns that mobilized leaders at all levels and in all
education efforts, including those mounted by a network of self-help
organizations, have enabled Senegal to maintain its HIV prevalence rates
below 2%. Massive education campaigns have also helped Brazil and Thailand
make strong strides towards managing their epidemics.
• Since people
have different frames of reference, preventive information cannot be
of a one-size-fits-all variety. It has to be customized for different
audiences. Surveys and assessment studies that reveal the local dynamics
of the epidemic and that identify local attitudes and needs make it
possible to tailor prevention messages effectively.
• A condom campaign
launched in Ghana in 2000 showed how effectively messages could be adapted
to local circumstances. Using street theatre and rap performers, the
campaign triggered an 80% rise in condom use in just six months. In
South Africa, popular television formats are being successfully used
to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.
campaigns and skill-building are important elements of preventive education.
The scope of the epidemic means that such campaigns should involve the
public and private sectors, as well as non-governmental organizations,
on a scale unparalleled in the history of communication.
• In some parts
of the world, AIDS is also striking countries’ education systems. In
some countries, up to 30% of teachers are directly affected by the epidemic.
Preventive education therefore has to include teachers and others working
in education, as well as their families.
education must take into account—and help change—engrained cultural
habits that leave sections of society (particularly women) more vulnerable
to infection and less able to cope with the effects of the disease.
Misguided notions of masculinity, for example, often deprive women and
girls of control over their bodies.
• All educational
programmes must reach girls and women to equip them with the information
and skills that can help them protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.
• It is crucial
that the protection of human rights serves as the basis for education
campaigns to stop the exclusion of people living with HIV/AIDS and give
them access to care.