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Imagine Scholar completes peer-facilitated HIV/AIDS awareness unit
KAMHLUSHWA, South Africa—What comes after a positive HIV test?
We approached our HIV/AIDS awareness unit by focusing on positive peer support. In contrast to some programs that provide information about HIV and facilitate testing, we wanted to go a step farther and create a framework that could handle a positive result.
Our approach attempted to leverage a positive peer structure to allow for meaningful peer support after a potential positive test result. It could be applied in other areas by groups hoping to provide additional support after a testing event.
What we did:
We felt like we made good progress getting the students to communication with one another. The capstone of the unit was a student-led class, where the older students in our program (grades 10-11) designed and taught a class to the younger students (grade 9). The adult facilitators helped with the planning but took no part in the actual class.
At the conclusion of the class, the students were given the option of testing for HIV using the municipality’s mobile testing center. We had a 100 percent testing rate – a rare feat that showed the commitment of the kids to HIV awareness.
Lack of Communication: We were able to leverage the positive culture of our program to create an open dialogue around HIV. This was a challenge as HIV/AIDS remains a taboo subject in this region of Africa. Students reported that while they often learn about HIV in school, it’s not easy for them to talk about the issues with family and friends.
Social Pressure: Both the boys and girls in the class, which range in age from 14-17, noted social pressure can affect decision-making.
Poor decision-making: We were surprised to find how much knowledge the students had about HIV transmission. However, the region’s high HIV rate seemed to indicate that this knowledge was not used to make smart decisions. One student noted that living in the Nkomazi was a risk in itself. “If you could be hit by a car on your way to school,” one student remarked, “then why use a condom? It’s just another risk of living here.”
Here was the general structure of our lesson plan (full lesson plan available upon request):
- Lesson 1: Introduction
- Lesson 2: The Science of HIV
- Lesson 3: The Social of HIV
- Lesson 4: Guest class by Improv Ed, a local HIV awareness group
- Lesson 5: Separate teacher-led discussions by gender
- Lesson 6: Preparation for student-led class
- Lesson 7: Student-led class followed by the testing event
Possibilities for extension:
We believe we have created a long-term support network for students, one that can cope with a negative or positive result. We do not just educate, we are committed to helping these students make good decisions and be leaders in their community.
In the future, these students can return to their villages as peer leaders willing to confront the problem of HIV/AIDS in a very personal, authentic way.
Who we are:
Imagine Scholar provides unique, personalized education to promising youth in South Africa’s disadvantaged Nkomazi region. We strive to effect profound change on individual lives and empower the next generation of African leaders through creative, multidimensional development.
Imagine Scholar aspires not to help students merely get by, but to give them the tools to be the difference makers of their generation and bring lasting change to their communities.
Director of Digital Communications: Andrew Winner Andrew@imaginescholar.org
Executive Director: Corey Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org