Malaika Education on HIV and AIDS:
Why is HIV/AIDS education for young people important?
Malaika Program on HIV & AIDS education for young people plays a vital role in global efforts to end the AIDS epidemic. In 2012, more than one third of all new HIV infections were among young people aged 15-24 (780,000). While this number is falling, HIV-related deaths have been on the rise among this group. In fact, HIV is now the second most prolific cause of death among young people worldwide. “Young people remain at the centre of the epidemic and they have the power, through their leadership, to definitively change the course of the AIDS epidemic.”
Providing young people with basic AIDS education enables them to protect themselves from becoming infected. Young people are often particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted HIV, and to HIV infection as a result of drug-use. Acquiring knowledge and skills encourages young people to avoid or reduce behaviors that carry a risk of HIV infection. Even for young people who are not yet engaging in risky behaviors, AIDS education is important for ensuring that they are prepared for situations that will put them at risk as they grow older.
AIDS education also helps to reduce stigma and discrimination, by dispelling false information that can lead to fear and blame. This is crucial for prevention, as stigma often makes people reluctant to be tested for HIV and individuals that are unaware of their HIV infection are more likely to pass the virus on to others people.