HIV and AIDS Education

UNESCO's Office in Dakar, Senegal dressed up for World AIDS Day on 1 December 2011. ©UNESCO/Anne Müller

Some 22.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV. This represents 68 % of the infected population in the world.

Africa is the region most severely affected by HIV. More than two out of three new infections happen in Africa.

Despite this alarming situation, joint actions by governments, civil society and international organizations are gradually paying off. The rate of new infections is on the decline.

An example: between 2008 and 2009 the prevalence of HIV among young people had declined by 25% in 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The education sector has a unique contribution to make. Schools provide an excellent environment and opportunity to reach a large number of young people through prevention education initiatives that adequately prepare them with the knowledge and skills needed to make responsible choices about their sexual lives.

UNESCO's approach

Within the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), UNESCO is working to engage education sector stakeholders in promoting comprehensive education sector responses to HIV and AIDS, and effectively planning and prioritizing actions.

To this end UNESCO has launched a global initiative EDUCAIDS in which UNESCO Dakar is coordinating efforts in West and Central Africa.

Key activities include:

Advocating for coherent responses to HIV and AIDS: HIV and AIDS Focal Points have for example been designated in Ministries of Education and networks of these focal points have been established within the Regional Economic Communities ensuring an efficient response at the national level and sharing of good practices at the regional level. Six Central African countries developed for example in 2008/2009 a harmonized sub-regional curriculum with standardized content across all school subjects.

Strengthening capacities: Training sessions and workshops on policy-making and strategic planning are organized for key resource persons in the relevant ministries to ensure the necessary skills and abilities to ensure that educational responses to HIV and AIDS are mainstreamed within the routine functions of education systems. An example is a partnership formed between UNESCO Dakar and UNESCO Brasilia to strengthen the capacities of partners in Portuguese-speaking countries n the area of HIV and AIDS.

Mobilizing resources and partners: Joint initiatives are implemented to develop technical proposals to improve the management of resources allocated. Examples are the Joint UN Regional Team on AIDS as well as the Joint UN National Teams on AIDS, which ensure that stakeholders work in synergy at the national and regional levels.

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