HIV/AIDS is a disease whose prevalence shows no signs of abating. According to some estimates, about 40,000 new cases of HIV are reported every year. And the most potent form of prevention (for there really is no cure) is awareness. In such a scenario, it becomes imperative to focus on education as a tool to spread awareness. The importance of such education to teenagers and other vulnerable groups has been highlighted by many organisations including the World Health Organisation.
According to a UNAIDS/UNICEF report, in the year 2009 alone, there were 890,000 new HIV infections amongst young people aged between 15 and 24. This proves that this age group is very vulnerable and needs to be educated about the causes, the implications, and the ways of contracting this very dangerous of diseases. Sex education and awareness programmes about HIV/AIDS go a long way in prevention. It is for this reason that several schools in India are now waking up to this fact and are beginning to openly talk to the children about these things.
According to Dr.S.P.Sharma, Delhi-based Life Coach and Counsellor, “More and more teenagers these days are experimenting with sexuality and sexual practices. It is vital that they be educated about the risks associated with such behaviour. It is only through awareness and education that we can curb the menace of HIV/AIDS in our society. One cannot stress the importance of such education enough.” It is not just teenagers who are sexually active that are the problem. Other aspects such as the use of sterilised needles, safe blood transfusions, etc are all topics that need to be taught.
The biggest hurdle in the spread of awareness is the availability of correct information. Several myths about the spread and containment of the disease exist. It is important to impart the kind of education that teaches non-discriminatory practices towards people suffering from HIV while simultaneously explaining how one can contract the disease and how to guard against it. Indeed, it is only when each member of society is educated about the disease will we be able to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS in a comprehensive manner.