In November, Children for Health focuses on the topic of HIV and AIDS and in particular on what children aged 10-14 need to learn about HIV and AIDS. This group of children are in early adolescence and can be powerful influencers in their friendship groups and in their families. Of course the messages would not be taught in isolation but (we hope) within a well-considered curriculum that focusses on sexual health and relationships and this curriculum carefully tailored to the many different developmental stages of the children.
The following list of messages are, what we think, a kind of minimum requirement! We believe that EVERY child leaving primary school should know these messages and know the messages so well that they can share them and discuss the messages with others. Our view of health messages in general is that they are like a doorway to important conversations that children can have with each other, older siblings and in their families. These messages are a resource for parents and educators and others.
We find that often people are unwilling to engage children in discussions about sex and HIV because they do not feel confident about what they should say or teach. Hopefully, these 10 messages help solve that important concern.
- Our body is amazing and every day there are special ways it protects us from getting diseases from the germs we breathe, eat, drink or touch.
- HIV is a germ called a VIRUS (the V is for VIRUS). It is an especially DANGEROUS virus that stops our body protecting itself well from other germs.
- Scientists have created medicines that stop the HIV from being dangerous but no one has found a way to remove it from the body completely.
- After time and without medicine, people with HIV develop AIDS. AIDS is a group of serious illnesses and these make the body weaker and weaker.
- HIV is invisible and lives in blood and other liquids in the body that are made during sex. HIV can be passed 1. During sex 2. From infected mothers to babies and 3. In blood.
- People protect themselves from getting HIV from sex by 1. Not having sex 2. Being in a faithful relationship or 3. By having sex using condoms (protected sex)
- You can play, share food, drink, hold hands and hug people with HIV and AIDS. It is safe and you will not catch the virus this way.
- People with HIV and AIDS sometimes feel afraid and sad. Like us they need love and support and so do their families. They need to talk about their worries.
- To help themselves and others, people who think they may have HIV or AIDS must go to a clinic or hospital for testing and counselling.
- In most countries, people with HIV positive get help and treatment. A medicine called ‘Anti Retro-viral Therapy’ (ART) helps them to live long lives.
Theses messages can be used by educators to use with children, as SMS text messages for older children or for households, or ideas for campaigns, quizzes or games and on the social media.
Please do send us any feedback you have or ideas for materials that can be used to help inspire and mobilise children as advocates of good health.