The information that HIV/AIDS is transmitted through sexual intercourse with an HIV/AIDS infected person, blood transfusion, contaminated needles, sharp infected objects, etc has gone round the globe for some years now. There have also been several campaigns as well as sensitizations on the need to observe HIV/AIDS preventive measures. Oshotimehin (2003) and Akpama (2007) noted that many adolescents are well informed about HIV/AIDS and have also been sensitized severally on HIV/AIDS prevention. This being the case, the adolescents’ perception on HIV/AIDS should be based on the level of information disseminated on them.
Human beings attend to issues based on the perception information the issues contain. When adolescents are quite knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, the knowledge so acquired will help the adolescents to develop positive attitude towards the preventive measures. What the adolescents know and feel about HIV/AIDS prevention will determine their attitude towards HIV/AIDS preventive measures (Akpama 2007; Omotosho, 2004; Odey, 2004; Olayinka & Osho, 1997). Momoh (2004) discovered in his study that in spite of the high level of teachers knowledge of HIV/AIDS, their knowledge and not compliment their behaviour which include: refusal to use condom with irregular sex partners (65.4%) and having sex with more than one sex partners (55.2%). Momoh (2004) also noted that of the knowledge of teachers, who are often time regarded as role models does not compliment their behaviour, the students may likely emulate their teachers. Imenda (2001), Akpama (2007) and Akpede (2003) agreed that students do not only need basic information on HIV/AIDS prevention, but focus should be on the adolescents group behaviour change. This to some extent will help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. Akpama (2007) noted that the Nigerian educational system especially the tertiary institutions can play a positive role on adolescents’ perception of HIV/AIDS prevention through
seminars and film shows organized across the campuses on weekends. This study investigates adolescents’ perception of HIV/AIDS prevention as it relates to the adolescents attitude towards HIV/AIDS prevention.
THE HIV/AIDS PANDEMIC
Recently a new concern about the violation of human rights through
AIDS prevention programmes have arisen. In evaluating the human rights
implications of HIV/AIDS preventive measures, Kirby (1996) sees such
strict measures as compulsory testing, obligatory screening of risk groups,
criminal punishment for spreading infection and quarantine as ineffective,
counter-productive and positively harmful in the global struggle against
STDs in general and HIV in particular. This is because according to him,
AIDS prevention entails behaviour change which is difficult to achieve
when the social environment is not conducive. The central place of
behaviour change to AIDS prevention is also emphasized by Cochran and
Mays (1989) and Osborn (1986).
Behaviour change is very important when it is realized that AIDS even though a physical or biological disease depends for its transmission and spread mainly on the volitional behaviour of people (Ward et al. 1989). Kirby (1996) and Hauserman (1996) are however particularly concerned with the need to ensure that human rights are protected in relation to HIV/AIDS programmes.
Cochran and Peplau (1989) have discovered that the perception of
being at risk, especially among men, is a factor in change of attitude towards the virus. Though they argue that women mostly change sexual behaviour mainly as a result of previous experience rather than cognition or perception. Perception influences prevention since prevention depends on behaviour change which is largely volitional. One way of addressing the influence of perception on prevention may be to situate prevention programmes in the social milieu of the people.
Niang (1995) reports that a study in southern Senegal shows that local channels, groups and practices can be effectively and ingeniously used in AIDS prevention programmes.
Prevention messages are particularly important. Even though there is need to state this within the social milieu of the receivers of such messages.
According to Ornelas-Hall (1990) AIDS messages must take cognisance of the social realities of individuals and groups. The above observation is akin to the argument of McPherson (1996) that simplistic messages to control risk and the assumption that information alone enables women to protect their health is not adequate.
This is especially the case for women with little or no power in their relations, hence there is need for strategies relevant to the circumstances of these women. AIDS prevention also requires applying intervention.
Effective intervention according to Slutkin (1993) may involve such things as condom marketing, well-programmed use of mass media and advertising, peer projects to reach the most at-risk population and systems
to diagnose and treat people with STDs that enhance HIV transmission.
Hence prevention programmes in Africa, especially in more affected regions, should aim at enlightening women on the risks they face and on the need for them to take active part in AIDS related activities and concern
(Exchange 1995; Safe Motherhood 1995; Williams 1993; World AIDS
1993; Mahmoud et al. 1990).
Even though, condoms recur in all genuine efforts towards AIDS prevention, some writers and researchers have raised issues with them (Slutkin 1993; Finger 1993). Shreedhar (1994) reports that Indian condom markets are awash with inferior condoms. These condoms are easily busted, not lubricated and easily fall to bits. The poor condom quality is attributed to two factors viz lack of consumer pressure and scarcity of reliable quality control. Inferior condoms may give rise to deep-seated resentment against their usage especially by first-timers.
Condom of quality is important in view of the fact that it is one of the
most effective means of AIDS prevention. In view of the spread of AIDS, condoms make sense (Dixit 1993). A way of encouraging condoms use may be, according to Donald and Ferreros (1990), through social marketing which is a method of promoting awareness of supply and distribution that complements many health delivery systems. While condoms are becoming popular and social marketing is encouraging condoms use to prevent transmission, a new concern has emerged on how to sustain such efforts (Manuel 1993). As a preventive measure the condom appears to be very effective especially where religiously adhered to. Rajanapitayakorn (1993) reports that a 100 percent condom use campaign in Bangkok, Thailand may have slowed the spread of the infection there.
As part of preventive efforts, public education will help in assuaging
the problem of AIDS (Batchelor 1984). AIDS education in schools seems
very necessary. In the views of Sy et al. (1989), this may be implemented
as part of a carefully planned and comprehensive school health education
curriculum. This suggestion may be timely in Nigeria where Raufu (1993)
reports that despite statistics showing that Nigeria is on the brink of an AIDS epidemic, many Nigerians still scoff at the idea that the disease has
eaten deeply into the fabric of society.
MEASURES IN CURBING HIV/AIDS PANDEMIC AMONGST STUDENTS OF TETIARY INSTITUTIONS
1. Public education
Public education should aim to get to as many people as possible to educate them about prevention and issues like non-discrimination and support for people living with AIDS. Always remember to select your target groups carefully and to stick to the message themes. Here are some ideas:
· Speeches - ask schools, churches, organisations and workplaces in your area if you can send a speaker to come and talk about HIV and AIDS. Speeches/talks should be about 30 minutes long and you should leave lots of time for questions. Use the information on page 1,2 and 3 as the basis for a speech. Also tell people what their rights are and where they can go for help. Make sure to train all your speakers so that they understand the issues, the message themes and can answer difficult questions.
· Workshops - a workshop can be a few hours long and is a good way to educate people. Workshops give people a chance to discuss issues in more detail.
· Plays and songs - culture can be a very effective way of getting your message across to people who do not want to sit in meetings or workshops. Involve cultural groups in developing education programmes
· Forums/community meetings - forums are meetings of interested people from your community or from a specific target group, where people come together to discuss an issue. Try to involve sympathetic community leaders like politicians, councillors, religious leaders and health workers. The leaders should be there to listen and to give leadership - a forum is meant to be a chance for people to come and talk about their problems. Speakers should make only a very short introductory speech that covers the main issues/problems and then ask for the participants to give their experiences and their views about what should be done. Leaders can sum up the way forward at the end of a forum.
· Door-to-door - do house visits to go and talk to people about AIDS
· Pamphlets - pamphlets are a good way of spreading information about HIV and AIDS as well as services offered by organisations. The Department of Health has many simple pamphlets you can use. If you write your own, keep pamphlets short and simple.
· Radio/newspapers - talk to local community and regional radio as well as newspapers about doing stories that will educate people about prevention, non-discrimination and care. Ask for space to run a talk show or advice column on HIV and AIDS.
2. Awareness raising
Awareness campaigns are used to make issues visible and to change public attitudes. They should aim to get publicity and to directly reach thousands of people. Be sensitive in the way you campaign. People are easily turned away by campaigns that are too aggressive or negative. Here are some methods you could use:
· Posters/pamphlets/graffiti - use posters and pamphlets to raise the issues or give people information. Get them from other organisations or make your own. Get permission from the council to paint an educational mural in a public place.
· Marches, events and culture - use marches, cultural events and parties to mobilise community support. Use "Breaking the silence" events where people living with AIDS come to talk about their experiences, or plays and songs that show the reality of HIV and AIDS.
· Protests - support the campaign against drug companies that do not make medicines available cheaply to developing countries. Protest against any employer or body that discriminates against people living with AIDS.
· Prayer meetings, funerals and other community events - Call special prayer meetings around AIDS. Get traditional leaders to call their subjects together to discuss AIDS. Use funerals of people who died of AIDS as an opportunity to raise awareness - be sensitive to the family's wishes.
· Loudhailers, information tables, etc - use loudhailers to talk in taxi ranks or in train carriages, set up information tables at busy places.
· Radio/newspapers - ask local media to raise awareness through phone-ins on radio, or interviewing people living with AIDS and your organisations. Get newspapers to publicise events and write letters to the letters page. Issue press statements and invite reporters to events.
3. Openness about AIDS and people living with AIDS
We have to actively promote openness about AIDS and a more supportive environment for people living with AIDS. Unless we bring the disease into the open we cannot deal with it effectively. If we cannot break the silence in our own ranks we cannot expect society to do so. As organisations we can:
· Encourage and support people living with AIDS to go public about their status
· Ask people living with AIDS to sit on platforms and speak at meetings with our leaders
· Encourage testing by organising testing drives and asking those leaders who are willing to go public about their results
· Create role models for how to cope with AIDS, by encouraging our leaders and other influential people who are HIV positive to reveal their status and to help campaign and raise awareness.
4. Support and care for people living with AIDS.
An important focus in a campaign should be to provide better support and care for people living with AIDS.
Many people who are HIV positive can lead long and productive lives if they look after their health. The immune system is weakened by the virus and many people die from ordinary illnesses like flu because their bodies are too weak to fight the illness.
Emotional and mental health are also important. People living with AIDS need support from their communities and from each other.
As organisations we can:
· Openly organise support and care so that HIV and AIDS becomes a community issue and we help to destroy the secrecy and shame that many people live with.
· Educate people with HIV and AIDS about healthy eating Start vegetable garden projects to help provide the right food types to people who cannot afford them
· Make sure our local health services have supplies of the cheap medicines that the government is making available to fight the common infections that easily kill people with AIDS
· Help organise projects, support or discussion groups where people living with AIDS can meet and talk to each other
· Educate people living with AIDS about their rights in terms of medicine, grants, employment, non-discrimination, etc.
5. Community care for AIDS orphans
In many communities there are already projects to help care for orphans. They are not reaching everyone and especially in poor rural areas little is being done. AIDS orphans can access government services and financial support, but many do not know how.
We cannot build enough orphanages to look after everyone and many experts believe that community care is much better for children. Community care can take a number of forms:
· Care by relatives - this is the most common and often the best form of care since children stay with people they know. Relatives who look after orphans can access government support grants if they are poor.
· Foster care - where individual children are placed worth families and looked after. The families can usually get the government support grants to help with costs. Many welfare societies can help with this.
· Group foster parents - a group of orphans are housed in one place and looked after by a foster parent. Examples are farmers building a house for all the orphans on the farm and employing an adult to look after them, so they can stay in their community.
· Child headed families - an older child looks after brothers and sisters and they stay in the family home.
· Community childcare committees - volunteers help children who live alone by becoming part-time parents and providing some support.
HIV/ AIDS EDUCATION TO STUDENTS OF TETIARY INSTITUTIONS
Students of tetiary institutions should be made to understand that Contracting HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is something that can be prevented. According to the CDC, HIV is spread through sexual contact with someone who is infected, sharing needles for injecting drugs with someone who is infected, or during labor or through breastfeeding. It reports that in 2006, an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred. The following areas should be touched when organizing HIV/AIDS education for students of tetiary institutions, including:
1. Abstinence or Safe Sex
Students of tetiary institutions should be informed that abstinence is the best way to prevent HIV transmission. Waiting until in a monogamous relationship with someone who is not HIV infected is the best way of ensuring you do not get infected with HIV. If you are sexually active, you should limit the number of partners you have, know their sexual history and use latex condoms and dental dams properly and consistently during vaginal, oral or anal sex.
2. Abstinence from sharing of needles
Students should be cautious of using illicit injectable drugs is dangerous; it can impair your decision-making ability, which can lead to risky behavior. Those who use illegal drugs should use clean needles, meaning needles that have not been used by anyone else. Dirty needles can transfer HIV from one user to another.
Students should be informed that HIV testing is one of the best way of preventing the spread of HIV to someone else, because you can be more informed about your status and change your behavior. In addition, if you are infected, you can be monitored by your doctor and get treatment if necessary in order to prevent the progression to AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Virus.
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