Author : Dr Ado Gustave
Affiliated Organisation : States United, Jersey New, Paterson in Technology Information of School-School High E
Publication Type : Report
Date of publication : 29 November 2017
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The spread of HIV in Ivory Coast is examined to evaluate Ivorian perspectives’ on which factors explicate the rising of HIV. This study reports the findings of an in-depth mixed method study with 39 teachers, 63 sixth grade students, eight school administrators, and 20 community elders. The study found that factors such as lack of condom distribution in school, high rates of sexual partner change, prostitution, enactment of abstinence education in the school-based curriculum, and lack of classrooms supplies (e.g. projections, electricity) and shortage of teaching materials (e.g. HIV movies and books), and the inadequate time devoted to HIV teaching have led to an HIV/AIDS education that is often insufficient to change either misconceptions about HIV/AIDS or risky practices. Hence people living in Ivory Coast have to get access to HIV education in order to develop life skills required to reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection.
Although older men and women tend to have multiple partnerships in Ivory Coast, research has found that, “HIV prevention should focus both on commercial sex and transmission between clients and younger females with multiple partners”
In the Ivory Coast, the lack of HIV/AIDS education and discourse deserves individual consideration Because HIV/AIDS topics challenge conservative conceptualizations of what is appropriate to teach in school and when, and raise questions around the purity or innocence of students, conservative educators, parents, and communities may feel threatened . Barriers such as personal beliefs and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS that prevent the delivery of HIV/AIDS education within the Ivorian school contexts have to be addressed.
“HIV prevention should focus both on commercial sex and transmission between clients and younger females with multiple partners”
Consequently, 35% of community elders believed that stigma associated with HIV/AIDS was high in their communities because the Ivorian government did not do enough to educate the public about the HIV epidemic. Moreover, 62% of school administrators were convinced that there was not enough time devoted to HIV and sex education in the Ivorian school curriculum because Ivorian curriculum makers viewed sex and HIV/AIDS as taboo subjects. Although 44% of students viewed HIV as an imaginary syndrome and believed that only prostitutes and people who bad characters could get HIV/AIDS, 34% of teachers claimed that were uncomfortable teaching HIV/AIDS topics probably because they lacked training in these topics and had some difficulty talking about sex and HIV/AIDS to their students.
” However, among these teachers, school administrators, and community elders who favored sexual abstinence some of them recognized that, “sexual abstinence required a lot of faith in religion and it was not easily accomplished.”
While 25% of school administrators claimed that abstinence education was easy to teach in School when there were no official HIV/ AIDS teaching resources available for Ivorian schools/teachers, 25% of community elders blamed that the preference of abstinence education over condom education might be one of the major cause for the increased HIV infection in Ivory Coast. Moreover, 51% of teachers understood that the lack HIV/AIDS content knowledge force many teachers to favor abstinence education over condom education. In sum, 40% of students were not satisfied with the way HIV prevention was handled in the Ivory Coast because there were no free condoms distribution at school and all students were told to observe abstinence.
A majority of teachers, community elders, students, and school administrators were convinced that “sexual abstinence was the only best method against the spread of HIV/AIDS.” However, among these teachers, school administrators, and community elders who favored sexual abstinence some of them recognized that, “sexual abstinence required a lot of faith in religion and it was not easily accomplished.”
In Ivory Coast civil disruptions and wars generated by political chaos in the country had set back the progress of the poor living HIV/AIDS and contributing to massive HIV spreading. The Ivory Coast has experienced many civil unrest and war due to political beliefs and divisions within the country.
“When money is short, parents are broke and have no other alternatives of getting out of their poverty, daughters’ prostitution can help put food on the table and remedy the financial burdens on the family.”
Political beliefs were the major theme on participant transcripts. Many community elders, students, teachers, and school blamed the high HIV/AIDS incidence rate in the Ivory Coast on the past political instabilities and the rise of poverty due to the war and civil unrest that the country faced from 2002 to 2011. One teacher alleged, “During the war, HIV/AIDS was forgotten and the rate of HIV/AIDS has increased.”
“When money is short, parents are broke and have no other alternatives of getting out of their poverty, daughters’ prostitution can help put food on the table and remedy the financial burdens on the family.” Most of the teachers, community elders, and students felt outraged to see young girls ages 13 through 16 engaged in prostitution in order to provide financial support for themselves and their parents.
Looking back at the spread of HIV/AIDS and prostitution a community member was saying, “How ironic it was that government officials, military and the police who were supposed to crack down on these girls and X-rated bars were the clients of these bars.”
For example, many students and a retired banker said, “HIV/AIDS is a curse. Only prostitutes and people of bad character get HIV/ AIDS. The whole community should stay away from those who have this curse of HIV/AIDS.” Another community elder, who is a retired doctor, disclosed the following:
People who have HIV/AIDS in our communities are able to hide their HIV/AIDS status very well and do not speak of their illness to anyone except their doctors.
Some study participants expressed examples of misconceptions they had about HIV/AIDS. One student participant went to the extreme of denying the existence of HIV/AIDS, explaining “HIV/AIDS was an imaginary syndrome to deceive young people and keep them from having sex.”
Other participants believed that HIV/AIDS infection and the lack of a cure were tied to conspiracies related to the government. The findings of the study reveal that HIV/AIDS education and curriculum in Ivory Coast classrooms are minimal. The Ivory Coast contains a good number of people who are HIV positive and yet not enough is done to educate the people and their communities about HIV/AIDS.
This study recommended that Ivory Coast to develop HIV/AIDS educational materials that are culturally responsive for their schools and communities. By exposing both communities and students to accurate information about cause, mechanisms of transmission, and prevention of HIV/AIDS myths and misconceptions can be dispelled if access to HIV resources is provided in the Ivorian schools.
To stream culturally relevant HIV/AIDS education for Ivorian students, Ivory Coast should invest in time and research about what the local population believes in order to provide opportunities to locally develop curriculum/strategies that address the challenges within the community in relevant and authentic ways.