HIV/AIDS Prevention and Health Promotion

© UNESCO/M. Mimi Kuo

The HIV epidemic and other health issues affecting children and young people pose a serious challenge to quality education and threaten to reverse progress made towards the Education for All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. Access to quality education protects against HIV, facilitates access to health information and services, and contributes to better overall health outcomes.

UNESCO’s work on HIV and health education is carried out within the framework of both the MDGs (MDG 2 and 6) and Education for All, and reflects the outcomes of the UN High Level Meeting on HIV 2011 which include the goal of addressing comprehensive knowledge about HIV, particularly through sexuality education. UNESCO’s Strategy for HIV and AIDS (2011) is also in line with the UNAIDS Strategy 2011 – 2015 and our work is organised around the following strategic priorities:

  • Build country capacity for effective and sustainable education responses to HIV.
  • Strengthen health education, which includes comprehensive sexuality education, HIV education; and other health promoting life skills.
  • Advance gender equality and protect human rights

These priorities contribute to UNESCO’s 2012-2013 biennial work programme under its Main Line of Action (MLA) 3 “Supporting education system responses to contemporary challenges for sustainable development and a culture of peace and non-violence”.

At country level, UNESCO supports national governments, particularly through education ministries and other line ministries (notably health), National AIDS Programmes and UNESCO National Commissions. UNESCO also works with partners including professional associations, teachers’ unions, academic and training institutions, non-government organisations, networks and organisations of people living with HIV and the media.

Through EDUCAIDS, UNESCO has produced guidance and resources, including practical guidelines for supporting EDUCAIDS implementation and a series of technical briefs that provide clear guidelines to support a comprehensive education sector response. UNESCO provided technical assistance to develop and enact national policies to protect HIV-positive and affected learners and workers from stigma and discrimination which contributes to promotion of inclusive education for all.

  • Sexuality Education- UNESCO has developed a global programme of work focused on supporting countries to scale up the delivery of comprehensive, high quality sexuality education. This guidance is backed up by tools, capacity building and dedicated country level support. 
  • School Health – UNESCO works to strengthen the education components of school health policies and programming, particularly the HIV response. 
  • Homophobic bullying – Bullying in educational institutions is a serious issue and it adversely affects the health and well-being of learners. UNESCO has developed a publication containing examples of good policies and practices, to be followed-up by further evidence gathering and development of programming content for use at regional and country level. 
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