Positive outcomes: the chances of acquiring HIV/AIDS during the school-going years in the Eastern Cape, 1990-2000

Case Studies & Research
16 p.

The authors explore the probability of acquiring HIV/AIDS for learners enrolled in SA government schools in the Eastern Cape. Ante Natal Clinic published data and a 10 percent sample of the census of 1996 are used to calibrate the probabilities of becoming infected. While education is glibly assumed to be a key turnaround factor and cultural antidote to the further spread of the pandemic, the authors point out that this earnest and understandably near universal hope is unlikely to translate into reality. Evidently, learners in the new post-1994 schools are being exposed to peer group pressures which are overwhelming HIV awareness programmes the students may be exposed to even via the new government's revolutionary curriculum of 2005. While the number of years at school is correlated with lower STD rates, this does not find an echo in lower HIV rates, nor indeed, lower pregnancy rates. HIV rates among school-going adolescent women in the Eastern Cape are growing extremely rapidly. The HIV rates among the age group 15-19 in the Eastern Cape are now among the fastest HIV growth rates in the world. Interventions include single sex schools, single sex teaching and significant, interventionist, reproductive health counselling. Clearly, the educational system in and of itself provides no shield of knowledge against the pandemic and should be comprehensively reviewed long before 2005. The authors conclude that sex and death lurk on the playgrounds and in the classrooms as much as they do at truck stops and near military installations.

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