Tuesday, 13 July 2010

HIV Project Impacts the Secondary School!

June has been a very exciting month for the HIV/AIDs awareness project! Owing to a strong working relationship with Laura, a Peace Corp Volunteer, we were able to deliver a series of four teaching session promoting HIV/AIDs awareness at a local secondary school. We worked with a class of forty students aged between seventeen and eighteen years old which provided us with an excellent opportunity to work directly with our target audience.

As the content of the sessions was of a highly personal nature we began by agreeing a set of rules to which we would all adhere to throughout our time together. The students expressed the importance of trusting and respecting one another and ensuring that all information discussed in the sessions remained confidential.

At the outset, we created a list detailing any questions the students had about HIV/AIDs in view of answering them over the coming sessions. The class were very proactive and showed great interest in furthering their understanding of HIV/AIDs. Many of the questions concerned fundamental issues regarding transmission of the HIV virus. Accordingly, this exercise was very positive as it reinforced the importance of conducting such workshops.

In our first session we introduced the topic of HIV/AIDs by presenting information about the prevalence rate of people infected with the virus in Vilanculos. This elicited a mixed response from the class with many surprised by the high infection rate. We played a game whereby students were asked to write a statement they had heard about HIV/AIDs and indicated whether they thought it was a true or false. This task raised some common misconceptions about the virus and led to discussions of relationship issues such as the importance of being faithful. It was really rewarding to see the students considering the social context in which the information we were giving them was operate.

In the second session we focused on the differing ways in which the HIV virus can be transmitted. Through the use of role play, illustrated flashcards and a DVD presentation we discussed the range of possible transmission methods. The class had many questions and really engaged with the material. We then explained the biology of the virus to ensure the students understood the effect the HIV cells have on the human body. In particular, one student expressed his surprise at the aggressive nature of the virus. This was a very satisfying moment as the class were really comprehending the severity of contracting HIV and consequently the importance of protecting against it.

In the third session we focused on treatment of HVI and discussed the important things to remember once someone has begun taking medication. We used true or false games and group discussion to reinforce the crucial requirements associated with controlling the virus. We also used diagrams to show the speed at which HIV can spread as a result of unprotected sex.

In the final session we conducted a quiz and referred back to the set of questions from the first session. Much to our delight the students were themselves now able to answer those. This was extremely rewarding as it showed their knowledge and awareness of the HIV virus had really developed.

It was a pleasure to have worked with such a welcoming, bright group of students and this session marked the end of a truly fantastic experience.

Written by Laura Robinson from England who volunteered for one month from June-July 2010

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