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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
HIV/AIDS Education Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Katherine Kruk, Oct 16, 2006
Health , HIV/AIDS   Opinions


With the lowest national HIV prevalence rate in Central America at 0.2%, Nicaragua is statistically dominating its region in the fight against AIDS. It is therefore somewhat of a juxtaposition that Nicaragua has the lowest GDP per capita in all of Central America. According to international development trends; are the political economic factors of a developing country usually not proportionate to their public health indicators?
In August 2006 I began working with a local NGO called Los Pipitos on their HIV/AIDS campaign. My role with the organization was to educate the parents and youth affiliated with Los Pipitos on the risks of the disease. I was placed by CIDA in the southern department of Carazo as its proximity to Costa Rica poses an increasing risk due to the many Nicaraguans traveling across the border each year in search of employment for extended periods of time likely infecting family members upon their return. In a country that prohibits sexual education in schools, HIV/AIDS is a highly misunderstood topic.
I lived in the small rural town of Jinotepe and worked on the AIDS initiatives of the Los Pipitos branches in my town and the two neighboring towns of Diriamba and Nandaime. Together with the coordinators of the three towns I began my portfolio with creating surveys intended to extract the level of knowledge that these communities have on HIV/AIDS so as to establish the context of the situation.
According to the local health centre with which we collaborated on many fronts, the information obtained by our initiative resulted in the most recent statistics on HIV/AIDS knowledge in the region.
From our surveys we found that many believed AIDS is transmitted by touch, others had never heard of it before while others still only laughed. With over 30% not knowing how to detect HIV/AIDS and over 50% having never been tested it is no wonder that the HIV/AIDS rate in Nicaragua is so low. As of 2003 the UN Progress in Statistics Report documented only 6000 cases nationwide. With thousands that go un-tested and are unaware 0.2% cannot be an accurate representation of the Nicaraguan population infected with HIV/AIDS. From our collected results we designed thematic workshops that aimed at clarifying cultural myths and filling in the gaps on local information pertaining to HIV/AIDS.
The truth is that only about 50% of the workshops were a success. There were many obstacles we faced just to organize attendance and participation. We learned that providing incentives was an important mechanism in establishing an interactive seminar.
Helping with the implementation of AIDS education is a vital undertaking. Its effects will be seen not only in public health indicators but also in socio-economic subjects and political culture. In order to achieve this we must assure sustainability of the project. My initial goal was to encourage HIV/AIDS education but my inherent hope and bigger vision was to plant a seed that can be maintained and flourish one day, long after I am gone.



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