|WHO Information Series on School Health - Document 6 - Preventing HIV/AIDS/STI and Related Discrimination: An Important Responsibility of Health-Promoting Schools (UNAIDS - UNESCO - WHO, 1999, 59 p.)|
|2. CONVINCING OTHERS THAT PREVENTING HIV/STI AND RELATED DISCRIMINATION THROUGH SCHOOLS IS AN URGENT PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE|
Statistical data about HIV/AIDS does not adequately convey the loss experienced by families, communities and nations. Physically, HIV and AIDS are an ordeal for those with the illness. A common cold can turn to pneumonia in a matter of days. Individuals with AIDS are often sick and unable to engage in the day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted.(5) Illnesses can come and go over a period of months or even years and differ in severity. Many people with HIV and AIDS suffer from depression because every hour of each day they must live with the knowledge that they are ill, that they will probably grow sicker and that they will die prematurely as a result of HIV infection. In late stages of AIDS, a large percentage of people experience various forms of mental illness similar to senility. Slowly and painfully, AIDS drains their energy and enjoyment of life. This can take many years and have devastating effects on the patients, their families and friends.
In addition to suffering from the consequences of a serious illness, individuals with HIV and AIDS often suffer from isolation and condemnation and are excluded from social interaction with family and friends as well as with the community.(6) Patients and their families often lose access to education, their jobs and sometimes health care. Ignorance plays a large part: misconceptions about HIV and sexual orientation often result in hostility and harassment. Family and friends of people with AIDS also endure the pain of isolation, fear and despair.
Nations also suffer. People with AIDS have fewer years of life expectancy, which has severe repercussions in the social and economic sectors.(7) Economic losses from AIDS could soon exceed total foreign aid to some seriously affected countries.(8) AIDS cripples not only the individual who suffers from the disease but their immediate communities and society at large.
HIV/AIDS clearly affects the education sector and the quality of education provided, particularly in certain regions of the world, such as Africa. Consequences of the AIDS epidemic include a probable decrease in the demand for education, coupled with absenteeism and an increase in the numbers of orphans and school drop-outs, especially among girls. A decrease in education for girls will have serious repercussions on progress made over the past decade towards providing an adequate education for girls and women. Reduced numbers of classes or schools, a shortage of teachers and other personnel, and shrinking resources for educational systems all impair the prospects for education.(9)