Article Date: 13 Aug 2009 – 14:00 PDT
by: Medical News Today
According to the results of a global youth survey launched today by Standard Chartered and AIESEC International, the world’s largest student organisation, although 84 per cent of young people believe the HIV and AIDS epidemic remains one of the great challenges of our time, almost 50 per cent have a dangerously low knowledge about the killer virus.
Over a third don’t think condoms are very effective in preventing sexual transmission and nearly a quarter admitted they would not always use a condom when having sex. This could explain why almost half of the world’s new HIV infections occur among 15 to 24 year olds according to the latest UNAIDS statistics, largely as a result of unprotected sexual activity.
Over 1,500 members of AIESEC International responded to the survey, spanning 99 countries. Whilst two thirds of them view HIV and AIDS as a major problem in their own countries, despite concerted efforts by health agencies to educate younger generations across the world, a third feel that there is little information available to them.
When asked where they would turn to for information on HIV and AIDS, the internet was overwhelmingly cited as the first port of call. Over 94 per cent said they would go online ahead of talking to health professionals (61 per cent) and friends (59 per cent) or family members (25 per cent).
The news comes as Standard Chartered launches the beta version of http://www.vir.us – a first-of-its-kind animated website aimed at young people – to raise awareness and provide information about HIV and AIDS in a fresh, entertaining approach. This is a new element of Standard Chartered’s prevention-focused HIV education programme, Living with HIV, developed in partnership with leading experts from around the globe. Standard Chartered has also pledged to the Clinton Global Initiative to educate one million people on HIV and AIDS by 2010.
Vanessa Green, Group Head, Living with HIV at Standard Chartered said: “In the absence of a cure or vaccine, the only hope of tackling HIV is to educate people on how to avoid contracting the virus in the first place – or passing it on if they are HIV+. This survey shows that there is still a huge job to be done in educating the next generation, giving them the facts which will enable them to make safe lifestyle choices. The starting point is providing them with reliable and practical information in an accessible way, which overcomes the taboos and stigma around sexual health that compound ignorance.
“This survey shows there is a clear need for a free online resource which targets young people and can teach them the facts around HIV and AIDS in an engaging and fun way, whilst dispelling the myths. Our http://www.vir.us website was recently launched to supplement our face-to-face peer education programme which we run in partnership with AIESEC to reach a greater number of young people.”
“AIESEC has been working in partnership with Standard Chartered’s Living with HIV programme for the past 5 years”, said Alexa Mabonga, Global External Relations Manager at AIESEC International. “To date, we have educated over 125,000 young adults in 20 different countries through peer-to-peer education initiatives. Myths, orthodoxy and a reluctance to learn the basic facts about the virus are some of the biggest hurdles our HIV trainers face on a daily basis. Running the programme on the ground, we have found that it has had a real impact and helped people gain a stronger understanding of the issue.”
About the survey
The survey was conducted amongst AIESEC members in 2Q 2009. There were 1,566 respondents based in 99 different countries. 85% of respondents were under 25 years old and the majority were university educated.
• 48.3% have moderate, little or no knowledge of HIV and AIDS
• 82.7% agree or strongly agree that HIV and AIDS remains one of the great challenges of our time
• 93.9% now likely/very likely to go online to learn about HIV and AIDS
• 46.9% are not likely or would never speak to family to learn about HIV and AIDS
• 86.7% believe there is a need for the private sector, governments and NGO’s to work together in the fight against HIV and AIDS
• 73.4% view HIV and AIDS as a problem in their respective countries
• 32.6% agree that there is little information about HIV and AIDS in their country
• 58.6% agree that young people in their country do not know enough about HIV and AIDS
• 23.6% say they would not always use a condom when having sex
• 60.9% believe condoms to be very effective in preventing the spread of HIV
• 36.6% believe they are not very effective in preventing the spread of HIV
About Living with HIV
Standard Chartered Bank’s best practice Living with HIV program began as an internal workplace HIV education campaign before it was rolled out to local communities. The success of the Bank’s community investment is largely due to the varied partnerships-with business, foundations and academic institutions-that allowed the company to bring its workplace program to scale effectively.
Through collaboration with other organizations, the Bank aims to educate one million people about HIV and AIDS by 2010, using resources, models and tools-including an online e-learning module and website, http://www.vir.us -that the company has developed during ten years of experience conducting HIV education for its employees. The HIV education tools are available in 10 languages, and Living with HIV uses a volunteer network of “HIV Champions” who educate their peers about HIV-including components on reducing stigma and encouraging people to get tested for HIV.