health project 1: Decision Making in Adolescent Couples to Promote Safe Sex Practices and Reduce HIV/AIDS

OVERVIEW

Educating students in school about sexual practices is taboo in many traditional African cultures. Because of this, a significant number of countries in Africa have a higher rate of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS than many other countries in the world. In Northern Ethiopia, there is an opportunity to educate the youth about these topics and decrease the frequency of sexually transmitted diseases caused by unsafe sexual practices in the area. This project will address this highly personal topic through an educational program that teaches the youth in school how to use good decision making skills.

Significance

Over sixty percent of the population in Ethiopia is under 25 years; that is, roughly 68 million people. This large proportion of young people are the most at risk for engaging in unsafe sexual practices due to the lack of knowledge and education received on the subject in school and in their home.

 

One of the major reasons for this at-risk behavior is the stigma that still surrounds the topic of STDs and HIV/AIDS and the absence of proper education about safe approaches to prevent these diseases.  

Our efforts will go beyond information directed at the individual but will focus on engaging and educating young couples who are most at-risk of STDs and HIV/AIDS. 

Methodology

We will first work closely with our partners; that is, school administrators, community, and religious leaders to determine what is culturally appropriate content.

We will develop an educational program that focuses on the young adult couple rather than the individual.  We will provide these young couples with information on how to make good decisions about choices regarding their relationship. Part of this curriculum will include enacting different scenarios in which unprotected sex may occur and the need to consider cognitive and emotional reasons for each of them individually and as a couple to avoid this risky behavior. The curriculum will be implemented in a one week-long class (per grade) in primary schools and be offered to students in grades 5 through 8. 

The primary school teachers will be trained to present the curriculum and methods for teaching these sensitive topics.

 

Anticipated Outcomes

Expected outcomes after implementation of decision-making skills curriculum:

  • Increased knowledge on safe sexual practices, STDs, and HIV/AIDS education and prevention in the students who participate in the program

  • Percentage of youth engaging in sexual practices now practice safe sex

  • Lower spread of HIV/AIDS

  • Higher quality of decision-making skills

"It's a marathon, not a sprint"

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