Teachers Must Become Better-Educated Advocates in Combating HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Opinion Piece Says
In many developing nations, educators are dying from HIV/AIDS-related causes at an "alarming rat[e], ... delivering devastating blows" to students, their quality of life and future employment opportunities, Cesar Chelala, an international medical consultant, writes in a Seattle Times opinion piece. Throughout the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, teachers are dying faster than new educators can be trained, which -- combined with the loss of administrative and management personnel -- affects education at the local, regional and national levels, according to Chelala. Teachers, who often earn more money than many others in impoverished areas, are especially susceptible to HIV because they travel more and are able to afford to pay for commercial sex workers, Chelala says. In addition, men in positions of authority, including teachers, can "exploit" young women because of prescribed gender roles that teach women to be submissive, he adds. These factors, combined with the fact that educators often are "poorly informed" about HIV/AIDS and contraceptive use, means that the disease will "kill significant numbers" of teachers and administrators and "severe[ly] impact" school enrollment, Chelala says. Therefore, teachers need to be "better-educated" about the disease as well as become "better advocates in the fight against infection," because education itself is a "formidable weapon against AIDS," according to Chelala. New and "more effective strategies" must be developed to combat HIV/AIDS, including prevention education, gender equality and contraceptive use, Chelala says, adding that governments also must implement "alternative and innovative" methods of educating children about HIV/AIDS. "At stake are not only children's lives, but also the countries' future development," Chelala concludes (Chelala, Seattle Times, 8/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.