impact of life skills training on HIV and AIDS prevention

Topics: HIV, Human sexual behavior, Sexual intercourse Pages: 13 (3843 words) Published: December 6, 2013

The Zimbabwe schools’ curriculum stipulates that life skills and HIV and AIDS education programmes be taught in schools as a strategy to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS among school-going young people in Zimbabwe. This study sought to evaluate the implementation of this prevention strategy among four secondary schools in Masvingo Urban. This was a qualitative research where data about the implementation were gathered through interviews and focus group discussions with school principals, teachers and students. A sample of 4 principals, 8 teachers and 64 students was used in the study. Students were assessed on knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and behaviour. Results showed that students exhibited high levels of knowledge of HIV and AIDS issues but their behaviour remained incongruent with this knowledge. The study also revealed that effectiveness of this prevention strategy is reduced due to teachers’ perception of this part of the curriculum as secondary, since they concentrate on examinable courses. From the research it was evident that limited resources and conflicting goals in the education system had a negative impact on the programme. The research made clear the need to make the teaching of life skills more practical by exposing students to real life situations through linkages with HIV and AIDS organizations working within the community.

Key Words: Life skills, Evaluation, Behaviour Change,

AIDS is amongst the leading causes of deaths worldwide and has had insurmountable negative effects on countries, in the socio-cultural, economic and political domains. Different countries have employed different strategies in an effort to combat the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS. Some of these strategies include increased condom availability and use, promotion of abstinence and life skills training amongst the youth in schools and communities. According to The Global Working Group on HIV and AIDS (1998; 8) since HIV infection is invariably the result of human behaviour, change in behaviour has long been understood as essential to curbing the spread of 1

infection. This assertion is corroborated by Gachuhi (1999;iv) who argues that in the absence of a cure, the best way to deal with HIV and AIDS is through prevention by developing and/or changing behaviour and values.

HIV prevention has been approached from different angles; most countries have used primarily or at least included HIV awareness and education as a strategy to combat HIV with the aim of changing people‟s perceptions and attitudes as these ultimately influence their behaviour. Therefore the ultimate goal is then to catch them young and create an awareness that can help eradicate the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Zimbabwe is amongst the countries that undertook a behaviour change based approach to HIV prevention. As cited on the National AIDS Council (NAC) website „the Behaviour Change Communication programme started in 2006 after a Comprehensive Review of Behaviour Change as a means of preventing sexual HIV transmission in Zimbabwe. A National Behaviour Change Strategy was then developed after this review with the aim of addressing the major ways of HIV transmission in this country.‟ It is assumed that between 80 and 90% of infections are due to sexual transmission. Hence, promoting the adoption of safe sexual behaviours remains at the heart of HIV prevention in Zimbabwe (SAfAIDS, 2013).

Zimbabwe‟s focus was on primary prevention of HIV through behaviour change strategies. It has since recorded a decrease in HIV incidence. In 1997, an estimated 29% of adults were living with HIV in Zimbabwe. One decade later in 2007, that number had fallen to 16%. HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe declined from 23.2% in 2003 and even further to 14.3% in 2009. (UNFPA, 2008). Different scholars and analysts have attributed...

References: Chamba, W. (2011) The effectiveness of HIV-AIDS education prevention programmes in
Zimbabwe: The role of school heads in SACMEQ III
Gachuhi D. (1999) The impact of HIV/AIDS on education systems in the eastern and southern
Africa region and the response of education systems to HIV/AIDS: life skills programmes.
Global HIV Prevention Working Group (2008) Behaviour Change and HIV Prevention:
(Re)Considerations for the 21st Century.
Gregson S et al. (2010) HIV decline in Zimbabwe due to reductions in risky sex? Evidence from a
comprehensive epidemiological review
Kalanda B. F. 2010.
Moya, C. (2002) Life Skills Approaches to Improving Youth 's Sexual and Reproductive Health.
SAfAIDS (2013) Zimbabwe National Behavioural Change Strategy 2006-2010.
UNICEF. (2002) Skills-Based Health Education to Prevent HIV/AIDS. New York: UNICEF.
UNFPA (2008) reproductive rights and sexual and reproductive health framework.
UNITED NATIONS (2003) Life Skills Training Guide for Young People: HIV/AIDS and
Substance Use Prevention, New York: UNICEF.
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