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HIV Knowledge is Power!

We like this article from Avert, they rightly point out that, “For too long we have undervalued the importance of health literacy in the HIV response.” We recommend reading the entire article, but some highlights include:

  • Only a third of young women in sub-Saharan Africa have comprehensive knowledge about HIV and sexual health
  • Last year we failed to meet the UNAIDS 2020 prevention targets
  • HIV is also dropping down the priority list of health issues
  • Greater emphasis on the importance of health communication across HIV prevention, treatment, care and wellbeing
  • High quality health communication and dissemination approaches that resonate with the people who need to be reached
  • End the shameful reality that far too many people still don’t understand their own personal risk of acquiring HIV
  • Use health communication to overcome the stigma and prejudice that has surrounded HIV since the start

We desperately need to communicate more clearly about how HIV is spread, prevention methods and treatment options (both before getting HIV using PrEP and after using antiretroviral medications). Our efforts to that end include our 10 messages for children to learn and share and more recently, our wonderful HIV & AIDS poster featuring these messages on the front and on the back, some ideas for activities that children can help them better understand and memorise the messages.

Also on the back is additional information for educators, including PrEP:

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of HIV drugs taken by HIV-negative people to prevent infection. Taking it correctly will prevent the risk of getting HIV to almost zero. It won’t protect against other STIs. PrEP is taken for short periods when a person may be at higher risk of HIV infection. At least a few days before starting to work with children on the HIV topic, have the educator explain, “Next week we’ll be talking about HIV & AIDS. This affects millions of people and their families. If there is anyone in the class who wants to discuss anything before these sessions, then please come to talk to me privately.” (specific time and place). In addition, educators should assume that some of the children in their class may be living with HIV, even if they are keeping it secret. They need to respect the pupils emotions.

Our LifeSkills Handbook has several great lessons about sexual and reproductive health too and can guide educators and other health workers through talking with adolescence about these topics.