Plaisance secondary teachers boost knowledge on HIV and Aids |03 December 2021
The Alliance of Solidarity for the Family in collaboration with the United for a Purpose Brigade and the Ministry of Health, yesterday held a HIV and Aids training workshop at the Plaisance secondary school.
The half-day training workshop for careers, personal and social education (PSE), religion, and citizenship (CPPRC) teachers, was to provide them with relevant knowledge on basic information about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and Aids(Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)required to assist and support school-based HIV prevention, care and support programmes.
The training was led by Sabrina Mousbé from the health ministry, Ronny Arnephy from the Alliance of Solidarity for the Family(ASFF)and John Ondiek from United for a Purpose Brigade (UPBrigade).
In her presentation on the basic facts of HIV and Aids, Ms Mousbé explained that schools are being targeted for sensitising training sessions because children are also being affected with HIV and they need to know how to protect themselves. She addedthat a large number of adolescentsbetween the ages of 15-24 years are HIV positive with a small portion contracting the virus from birth while the majority are contracting the virus through unprotected sex.
Ms Mousbé said the young people, especially school children, are classified as a vulnerable group which needs special attention when it comes to issues related to HIV and Aids, which may affect their social well being if they get to be stigmatised for contracting the virus.She further said it is the reason why schools are the priority settings to conduct such HIV and Aids training programmes, to reach out to a large number of youths from the different households in the different communities. She added that fromlearning how to transfer messages considered sensitive, students will be more comfortable to come forward to talk about any issue or less if they feel they are at risk or have been infected with the virus.
Speaking about some statistic, she said 943 people are currently leaving with HIV in the country. She noted that the figure must surely be higher since tests have been run ononly those who came forward to do their HIV tests. In 2020, there 84 (58 males and 26 female) new HIV casesamong which 15 were infected with hepatitis C, 3 with hepatitis B and two with tuberculosis. There were also 14 (8 males and 6 females) new cases of Aids recorded and 10 (8 males and 2 females) died from the disease.In all 21,689 HIV tests were conducted in 2020 among which 18 pregnant women tested positive and with two transmitting the virus to their babies.
As from January to September 2021, 49 new HIV cases have been recorded along with 21 new Aids cases and 19 deaths from the virus. Seven hepatitis C patients have also contracted the virus while only one woman has transmitted HIV to her child.
The teachers learned basic facts about the trends, definition and causes of HIV, factors that affect the risk of transmission and vulnerability of HIV infection. They also discussed strategies to prevent HIV and Aids for school children and problem-solving skills to address school specific issues related to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. They also learned how to transfer the knowledge to the students and their family members regarding important information on HIV and Aids and how to respond to students’ behaviors on sensitive topics or issues, among others.
Apart from acquiring knowledge and skills to assist and support students with HIV and Aids, the participants also had an overview of the functions of ASFF from Mr Arnephy and those of the UpBrigade from Mr Ondiek.
The CPPRC head of department, Veronica Laira, said the school does teach students about HIV and Aids in the PSE and religious classes and the training will be an added boost to their capacity to make known to the students the dangers of HIV and Aids and the protection against it to lead to its elimination.
The training was part of activities to commemorate World Aids Day celebrated each year on December 1 and this year’s theme is ‘End Inequality, End Aids, End Pandemic’.