|Adapting the Education Sector to the Advent of HIV/AIDS (Meeting document) (UNAIDS, 2000, 8 p.)|
The failure to appreciate the calamitous effects HIV/AIDS is having on educational systems is closely linked to the barriers of silence that surround the disease, publicly and privately. There is a reluctance to get it out into the open. It is referred to by innuendoes and half-suggestions. It is concealed as TB or malaria or meningitis or just as a sickness. This silence is associated with some sense of shame at both personal and institutional levels, something which leads on very easily to stigma and discrimination. A vicious circle quickly develops. False shame leads to silence, silence leads to stigma, stigma leads to a deeper sense of shame, and thereby to even greater silence and isolation. It all becomes so great that the education sector, like its individual members, tries to behave as if AIDS did not exist. But all the while, this whole atmosphere provides a dark, secretive breeding ground for the further spread of the virus. At the same time, the silence surrounding the disease works against the openness that would enable the education sector deal constructively and creatively with its impacts.
Therefore the second basic principle which the education sector must adopt if it is to be proactive in its response to the advent of HIV/AIDS is to break the silence that envelops the disease, publicly and privately. It must be got out into the open