Bodies Count AIDS Review 2006 discusses the role of education and the response of the educational system to HIV and AIDS. It has long been believed that schools were one of the most effective places to address HIV and AIDS. Indeed AIDS education in schools has often been referred to as a 'social vaccine' equipping young people with a lifetime protection against infection and giving them the means to develop and sustain sexual behaviour that will not carry the risk of infection. There has been an emphasis on the role of teachers to ensure that HIV and AIDS education is taught in schools and that teachers can also act in some way as social mediators of the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people. This Review investigates whether schools can do what is expected from them in relation to HIV and AIDS. How do schools breathe life into the National Policy on HIV and AIDS in Schools, who is expected to do the work, who will monitor that the work is done? What are the roles of the National Departments of Health and Social Development in acting on the information that schools will have gathered of the impact of HIV and AIDS on the families of the learners and on the learners themselves? Who is monitoring in a serious way the numbers of teachers living with HIV and AIDS, who is supporting and sustaining these teachers and where is the critical debate about the ways in which teachers themselves behave? The central question to this Review is why schools, education departments and parents find it difficult to respond in deep and sustained ways to what everyone (well, almost everyone) agrees is the single most important challenge to democracy and development in post-apartheid South Africa. Bodies count in very real ways - it's not just about how many bodies are in a school, or how many bodies are reached through HIV and AIDS educational interventions or how many bodies are tested and put onto treatments. Such often mindless body counts oversimplify the epidemic and reduces responses to numbers and uniformity. The bodies count as a whole, but each individual body also counts as a site of complex, conflicting and puzzling emotions and responses to education. Its about how we make these bodies of young people and their teachers and parents count enough so that there is a serious, compassionate, educationally informed and sophisticated response#to HIV and AIDS - so that these various bodies are valued above all else.
University of Pretoria, Centre for the Study of AIDS
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