HIV Prevention in Africa

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HIV prevention in Africa A continuing rise in the number of HIV infected people is not inevitable. There is growing evidence that prevention efforts can be effective, and this includes initiatives in some of the most heavily affected countries. One new study in Zambia has shown success in prevention efforts. The study reported that urban men and women are less sexually active, that fewer had multiple partners and that condoms were used more consistently. This is in line with findings that HIV prevalence has declined significantly among 15-29 year-old urban women (down to 24.1% in 1999 from 28.3% in 1996). Although these rates are still unacceptably high, this drop has prompted a hope that, if Zambia continues this response, it could become the second African country to reverse a devastating epidemic. This suggests that awareness campaigns and prevention programs are now starting to work. But a major challenge is to sustain and build on such uncertain success. What form should AIDS education take? Peer education A social form of education without classrooms or notebooks, where people are educated outside a 'school' environment but still have the opportunity to ask questions. Most peer education focuses on providing information about HIV transmission, answering questions and handing out condoms to people in a workplace, perhaps in a bar, or where a group of women gather to wash clothes. Most peer educators make contact with their target audience at least weekly and their sessions will usually be in the context of informal discussions with individual people or within a group. Active learning Active learning can sometimes link into peer education, especially when AIDS education is aimed at young people, as one of the best methods of learning something oneself is to teach it to others. Blanket education A general message aimed at the population as a whole. Blanket education usually aims to inform the population about which behaviors are risky and to give them support in changing these behaviors. Targeted education This type of strategy is usually used to speak to social groups who are perceived as being at a high risk of HIV infection. It focuses on risky activities particular to the specific target group. AFRICA ALIVE! January of 2000 kicked off the campaign to literally help keep Africa Alive! in the new millennium. The Mission of the Africa Alive! campaign is to give youth the skills they need to fight against HIV/AIDS. The vision is a new generation of Africans who are HIV/AIDS-free.

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