In practice: Culture as an enabler
- Many efforts to educate communities on HIV and AIDS have faced issues around the taboos that surround sexual health, which have created barriers in raising awareness and a reluctance to undergoing testing or use protection. These problems have been increasingly tackled through awareness programmes delivered by local Imams in countries such as Uganda and Bangladesh. The Imam is the recognized teacher and model for social behaviour within the Muslim community and is well place to promote behavioural change at the community level. In Uganda after only two years, baseline and follow-up surveys revealed that community members in project areas showed significant increases in correct knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention. The surveys also show a significant reduction in self-reported sexual partners.
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- UNESCO also uses creativity and the arts as important tools in HIV and AIDS education. The use of creativity and the arts is widely recognized as an effective, non-formal education tool, particularly resourceful for sensitizing young people to HIV and AIDS. Dance, hip hop, puppetry and shadow theatre, painting, graffiti, poetry, screenwriting, textile design and fashion can all be used as compelling forms of “edutainment”. In China, a cooperation project between Ruili City Nengguan Performing arts Training Center and UNESCO, called “Art Experimental Activities”, aimed at increasing awareness of gender and HIV and AIDS prevention. The project aimed at spreading scientific information on gender and HIV and AIDS prevention to the ethnic groups in the bordering area through traditional performances in ethnic communities. The project results show that the twelve participants involved learned scientific knowledge on gender and HIV and AIDS prevention and improved their ability in art performances. The performances in ethnic communities were popular among the local people and as a result the community leaders and audiences exhibited changed attitudes towards how to treat drug users and people with AIDS. The activities held in Ruili City by Nengguan Performing arts Training Center started an important tradition in the area. These activities helped the participants learn some new knowledge about gender and HIV and AIDS prevention.