HIV/AIDS KNOWLEDGE IN YOUTH: THE NEED FOR SCHOOL HEALTH PROGRAMMES.
The youth, both in and out of school constitutes very important segment of the population. Because of their life style they may be prone to Human Immunodeficency Virus (HIV) infection. The present data shows that more than half of HIV infection occur among people under 25 years of age(1) , thus its mandatory to have this group as a prime target for HIV health education programs. this can be achieved through HIV/AIDS education in schools.
A key element in developing such education programs is accurate assessment of the knowledge, attitudes, concerns and behaviors of the young people at whom the programs targeted. These education programs should be developed within the context of the traditions, beliefs, values, behavioral and educational norms of the society. It must take in consideration the religious teachings which can be of great support to these programs. They should be appropriate for the age and educational level of the student. Educational activities may be developed in the form of curricular or extracurricular activities, their aim will be to develop a behavior that should protect the students against the risk of HIV infection. The programs should include appropriate knowledge about the infection, skills and attitudes that permit effective communication, responsible decision making, and the development of healthy human relationships that will protect themselves and others from HIV/AIDS infections.
Education about HIV and sexually transmitted diseases is best given within a broad health education program that provides an understanding of communicable diseases, community health, human relationships, drug use and other relevant issues.
WHO in collaboration with UNESCO has developed a package for School Health Education to prevent AIDS and STD(2). This package should be modified according to the local circumstances when designing health education programs to prevent the diseases in different countries. It contain different evaluation tools for both teachers and students which could be utilized to measure the knowledge and attitudes before and after conducting the courses.
In assessing knowledge on AIDS among school students in Buraidah city and measuring the effect of health education program, it was found that the programs have greatly and significantly improved the scores of general AIDS knowledge, transmission knowledge and misconception about the disease (3). Such studies are needed to prepare the stage for proper implementation of AIDS/ STD health education programs.
1. WHO, AIDS series (10). School Health Education to prevent AIDS and Sexually Transmitted diseases. WHO, GENEVA1992.
2. School Health Education to prevent AIDS and STD, A Resource Package for Curriculum planners, WHO-UNESCO. WHO/GPA/TCO/PRV/94.6a,b,c.
3. Saleh MA, Al-Ghamdi YS, Al-Yahia O, Shagran TM, Moosa AR. Impact of Health Education Program on knowledge about AIDS and HIV Transmission in Students of Secondary Schools in Buraidah city, Saudi Arabia: An exploratory study. Journal of Family and Community Medicine 1999; 6 (1): 15 – 21
Dr. Yagob Y. Al-Mazrou, Ph.D,FRCGP, Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Medicine, M.O.H. Riyadh 11176, Saudi Arabia