Did you know that HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest maladies, trouble, ills in our society today. One of the diseases responsible for the death of many people around the world. It is one of the leading causes of deaths among young children. The spread of this infection can be stopped through prevention, education, treatment and care and support to persons with HIV.
What is HIV and AIDS?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a pandemic that is spreading around the world, infecting to date more than 33 million individuals worldwide. The vast majority of individuals and young people living with HIV or AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa countries including Nigeria.
HIV is a virus that can make you sick. It weakens the immune system, the body’s built-in defense against disease and illness. A person can have HIV without knowing it. A person may not look or feel sick for years, but you can still pass the virus on to other people. Without HIV treatment, the immune system of an infected person can become too weak to fight serious illness. HIV can also damage other parts of the body. Eventually, a person with HIV can become sick with life-threatening infections. This is the most serious stage of HIV infection, called AIDS.
There is no cure for HIV, but with proper care and treatment, most people with HIV cannot get AIDS and can stay healthy for a long time.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is final, life threaten stage of infection with HIV. AIDS refers to fact that HIV severely damages the immune system in the body, which is the most important defense against disease. Cases of AIDS were first identified in 1981 America and since then million of AIDS cases have been diagnosed worldwide.
Who can get HIV?
Anyone can be infected with HIV, no matter.
- Your age
- Your sex
- Your race or ethnic origin
- Your educational level or family wealth/influence
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV can get passed between you and someone else:
- Through any form of unprotected sex
- By sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs
- Unscreened blood transfusion
- Mother-to-child transmission
- Sharing of tooth brush
HIV cannot also be passed by:
- Talking, shaking hands, working or eating with someone who has HIV
- Cough or sneezes
- Sharing swimming pools with infected person
- Sharing toilet seats or sitting with someone with HIV
- Sharing bed sheets or towels and cutlery with someone with HIV
- Insects or animal bite
Why is it important to learn about HIV and AIDS
Thousands of people are infected and children are being orphaned because of HIV/AIDS. If the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS is not addressed there will be decreased productivity and economic losses in the areas of education, agriculture, tourism, mining, lumber, finance and trade.
At present, there is “No” cure for HIV/AIDS. The best we can do to prevent this disease from spreading and taking more lives, is to educate and create awareness. Knowledge is power.
The essence of this lecture is to “Increase awareness of safe practices to prevent HIV infection in students by being more careful and ultimately decreases infection rate.”
Since youths are the future of tomorrow, committed and determined efforts have to be realized in order to curb the staggering statistics of HIV/AIDS among youth worldwide. The fight against the HIV/AIDS and the prevention of the disease requires the collective responsibilty of individuals, students, schools, community group, and every one.
Over half of all new infection worldwide are among young people between the ages of 15 ans 24. Every day, it is estimated that 6,000 young people especially the females become infected with HIV-implying that more than five youth every minute. Further, less than one-third of young people worldwide know how to protect themselves from HIV. Their vulnerability is made higher by their behavior patterns, modes of socialization, peer pressure, prevailing concepts of masculinity, alcohol and drug abuse.
Further, behavioral practice such as “sugar-daddy/mummy” liaisons, sexual experimentation, prostitution, unprotected casual sex, and gender violence and having multiple sexual partners have exacerbated the spread of the pandemic among students.
HIV is preventable and prevention works. The returns on preventing infections among young people are enormous with HIV prevention, youths will be able to reach their dreams and make positive contributions to the society.
As students, are we vulnerable to HIV?
Youths view themselves as being unique and as such immune to disease and death. Their thinking is that something bad will happen to someone else, not them. In the case of HIV/AIDS, youth may view others as being vulnerable to the disease while they are invulnerable. This personal fable can lead the adolescent to engage in risky behavior and/or not use precautions when engaging in sexual activity.
The most important factor in transmission of HIV is the sexual contact between the youths. Due to excitement which is very common in today’s youth, they have sexual contact with a number of partners. Thus, if a youth has sexual contact with anyone who is or who might be infected with the virus he transmits it. Such stuff should be avoided. The most important and effective preventive strategy is to refrain from all the sexual intimacy (ABSTINENCE).
Preventing drug abuse and educating young drug users about AIDS are important approaches to control HIV infection. Drug users share needles, syringes, razors and other equipment which make them risk contracting HIV.
Preventing discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS is important not only for moral reasons but also to maintain public health. When people aren’t afraid of discrimination they are more likely to seek earlier counseling and to be tested for HIV infection. This leads to less risky behavior and early diagnosis and treatment.
Sharing information on HIV/AIDS with friends, family members and community members can help them take appropriate actions to prevent the transmission of HIV and seek treatment where necessary.
Role of the school
- Promote abstinence and necessary support system for its success.
- Help students develop attitudes, values and beliefs that support making healthy choices and a delayed sexual debut/initiation
- Engage in classroom activities that allow students to learn and practice real-life such as refusing pressures, negotiating safer choices or seeking help when troubled.
- Facilitate steps to increase parent-child communicating about relationships and sexuality
- Regular education on HIV/AIDS during awareness/campaign.
- Establishment of HIV – clubs and counseling programs.
- Enabling environment to discourage stigmatization and discrimination.