Investing in HIV Education
Today’s report from the MAC AIDS Fund highlights a concerning trend among young people in the UK, but for once, it’s not because they’ve done something wrong!
HIV education in school is simply not good enough. Three years ago, Life in my Shoes commissioned a report that demonstrated inconsistency around what’s being taught across schools and the urgent need for greater understanding around both the scientific and social aspects of HIV.
Since then, we’ve been working to tackle these issues and participating in lobbying to give HIV a greater role in the curriculum as a whole, most importantly, by insuring PSHE (where HIV is most commonly taught) is a statutory requirement for all schools.
In the meantime, we believe that the only way we’re going to see change is by talking to young people and educators about the issues that affect them in a language they can understand, engage with and be moved by.
It’s worrying that today’s report suggests that over 70% of young people don’t realise the risks of unprotected sex in relation to HIV. At Life in my Shoes we know that knowledge is power; be it knowledge of your own HIV status, knowledge of how HIV may be transmitted or even just knowledge of what HIV is.
In the past year, we’ve delivered our lessons and workshops to hundreds of students. What’s encouraging is that we know that in the schools we’ve visited over a number of years, group knowledge and culture is changing. With the right information aimed at the right level and delivered with confidence, we’re making a difference.
Through education, we’re preventing a new generation from being at risk of sexually acquiring HIV. Education is prevention but it also needs investment – from government, from teachers, students, parents and from all those brave organisations who provide the financial support to allow us to continue.