Sunday, August 06, 2006

Innovative AIDS Education in Africa

According to this story in the NY Times:

Cheap Solutions Cut AIDS Toll for Poor Kenyan Youths

By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: August 6, 2006

At a time when millions of people each year are still being infected with the virus that causes AIDS, particularly in Africa, a rigorous new study has identified several simple, inexpensive methods that helped reduce the spread of the disease among Kenyan teenagers, especially girls.

In Kenya, where poverty drives some girls to sleep with older men for money or gifts, teenage girls are seven times more likely to be H.I.V. positive than boys the same age.

The new study found that when informed that older men are much likelier to be infected, teenage girls were far less likely to become pregnant by so-called sugar daddies.

The $1 million study, financed by the Partnership for Child Development, a London-based nonprofit group, did not seek blood tests for H.I.V., since its subjects were minors. Instead, it relied on pregnancy as evidence of unprotected sex.

The study found that when girls in impoverished rural areas were given free school uniforms instead of having to pay $6 for them — the principal remaining economic barrier to education in Kenya — they were significantly less likely to drop out and become pregnant.

Researchers also found that classroom debates and essay-writing contests on whether students should be taught about condoms to prevent the spread of H.I.V. increased the use of condoms without increasing sexual activity.

So, the girls would have sex with older men in order to get school uniforms and other necessities. The program, instead of just telling about how not to get infected, helped the girls understand that older men were much more likely to give them HIV -- and that by having a discussion on whether condom use should be taught, their pregnancy rate dropped, indicating that they were protecting themselves.

The article also notes that HIV education which merely promoted abstinency had no effect on the students. The pregnancy rates remained the same. Once again, the political right, which has forced this ineffective educational tact into the science of the classroom, has shown itself to be morally bankrupt since it cares more about ideology than results.

Let the AIDS educators with experience run the AIDS education programs and leave the right wing religious political people OUT of it.
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