13.03.2012 - Education Sector

Tackling the youth “knowledge deficit” about HIV

©UNESCO/Forbes, Inez

Only 33 per cent of young men and 20 per cent of young women in developing countries have the necessary knowledge of HIV to protect themselves, according to a 2011 UN report.

This “knowledge deficit” is amplified in East and Southern Africa, where the risk of HIV infection is greatest. Only 7% of 13- to 14-year old pupils there have desired levels of knowledge on HIV (SACMEQ 2007).

In 2009, UNESCO and partners published the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education to provide schools, teachers and health educators with the tools to develop and carry out comprehensive sexuality education programmes. There is a pressing need to scale up its implementation to ensure that young people have the knowledge and capacity to protect themselves from STIs and HIV, and lead a healthy sexual life.

To that end, UNESCO is convening an International Technical Consultation on Scaling up Sexuality Education at its headquarters from 13-15 March. The consultation will bring together more than 40 experts and key stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of sexuality education programmes, from ministry representatives to young people from four different organizations. The conclusions will form the basis of a publication on how to achieve sexuality education on a larger scale.

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