HIV Scotland, Scotland’s largest HIV policy organisation, has released a report recommending that students in secondary schools be taught about HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The organisation has also called upon the government to introduce a law to make sure that all schools provide compulsory sexual health, relationship, and parenthood education. These classes should include information regarding LGBT relationships.
The organisation is advocating for people understanding HIV in a more modern way and for resources to be provided offering information on the latest HIV prevention and treatment methods.
Provide Information on Latest Remedies
The report appreciates the strides that medical experts and professionals have made in providing effective HIV prevention and treatment strategies. Such strategies include HIV PrEP a drug that offers efficient prevention against HIV and Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).
There is need to educate and inform people about the availability of these strategies if they are to offer maximum benefits. This education should start at an early age, according to the report.
HIV Scotland also recommends that sexual health professionals be given a high presence within schools.
There is very low knowledge of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sex among Scottish youths. Three in five young people report to not ever receiving any information regarding HIV in school. Unfortunately, two teenagers aged between 15-24 are diagnosed with HIV every month.
Sex Educators Facing Numerous Challenges
A round table held in 2016 by HIV Scotland with sex educators found that they face so many challenges. Some of these include:
- Lack of consistent monitoring of sexual health, relationship and parenthood classes
- Too little time for these classes
- Needs of LGBT students being ignored
- A general lack of giving adequate attention to sex education.
A look at all the local authorities in Scotland also revealed that a third of the local authorities do not teach HIV in sexual health, relationship and parenthood classes.
HIV Classes a Necessity
Stakeholders in both education and medical fields feel that teaching about HIV, PrEP and other HIV prevention options should be a part of the curriculum.
Unfortunately they are currently lacking or completely watered down as teachers are either uncomfortable talking about sex or terrified of the backlash.
This has resulted in students who are oblivious to crucial information regarding their sexual health. They are not aware what HIV/AIDS is, how it’s acquired and most importantly how to protect themselves or seek treatment should they already be infected.
Lack of proper sex education has also led to stigma and ignorance towards the HIV virus making it even harder to have this conversation.
HIV Scotland anticipates controversy following the report’s recommendations but remains steadfast in the need to talk about HIV from a very early age to protect young people from the HIV epidemic.
The organisation notes that HIV treatment and prevention has changed tremendously and there’s therefore, need for schools to teach the 21st century characteristics of HIV, including PrEP as well as the “Morning-After” version – HIV PEP. This will then help in eliminating new transmissions.
Compulsory sex education may not please some people, but, it is vital so that young people can protect themselves from HIV as well as other STIs. Local authorities and schools are thus encouraged to find out how best to deliver it in the curriculum.
Source: HIV Scotland