FOCUS’ Response to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic
In response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that stands as a threat to the lives of the students in our institutions of higher learning and the youth in general, FOCUS runs a HIV/AIDS programme with the aim of empowering students to fight AIDS by promoting positive behavior change and care and support for the infected and affected students. We would like to call upon all student communities to integrate HIV/AIDS advocacy in their on going programmes because as we very well know, “One infected is all affected”.
Attitudes and behavioural practices that put students at risk of HIV/AIDS infection could include,carelessness in handling ones sexuality, denial that one could be at risk, lack of adequate information, lack of empowerment especially for female students, cultural factors, peer pressure, financial constraints, negative entertainment, drug and other substance abuse, excessive freedom among others
To find solutions to the above, FOCUS has identified two main priority areas needing attention:
- Awareness campaigns and discussion forums on HIV/AIDS and related issues.
- Training of Peer Educators / Counsellors.
The goal of the programme is to promote HIV/AIDS prevention and improve the quality of life of students living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
The programme aims at influencing positive behavioral change and increasing the level of advocacy on HIV/AIDS among university and college students as well as addressing Stigma, discrimination and denial among infected and affected students.
“Students speak out, stand up, and take action against AIDS”
Students are well known for their ability and energy to air their grievances when faced with issues that they consider “enemies” of their progress. They not only speak out but by their strength in numbers, they persist until they are listened to. We want to appeal to the students’ intellectual capacity and strength in numbers to see AIDS as an enemy of their progress and therefore, in concerted efforts, utilize as many activities as the students engage in (e.g. sports days, professional group meetings, entertainment forums, formal meetings, etc) to speak out and break the conspiracy of silence on AIDS, stand up against practices and attitudes that put them at risk, and take action by being positive peer influencers in support of those infected and affected by AIDS.
So far FOCUS has been involved in the following ways:
Material Production: Responding to students request for a Bible based study material on sexuality and hIV/AIDS, FOCUS developed and produced a Bible Study guide dubbed “Who Cares”. Many students have and are continuing to go through this material.
Training peer counselors: Our interactions and surveys done among students indicate that there are many students crying out for help. A recent survey carried out by a FOCUS’ staff indicated that the main areas of struggle in order of priority are cross gender relationships, interpersonal conflict, HIV/AIDS, career choice and failure. The same survey showed that many of the students, (20%) result to their friends for help when faced with crisis moments while a further 36.5% go to Christian Union counselors, a total of 58%. With this in mind, FOCUS realizes the need to train peer counselors who would be equipped to help their colleagues. As a result, a good number of students in different institutions have been trained as Peer Educators / counselors and plans are in place to train more. Our aim is to have active and committed core groups in every FOCUS affiliated institution who can spearhead the HIV/AIDS advocacy in their institutions.
Awareness creation days: With the realization that first year students require good preparation for their lives in campus, FOCUS has taken a proactive role in encouraging and facilitating students to organize for sessions on sexuality and HIV/AIDS during the first years orientation program. Such sessions have included video shows and discussions, talks by persons living with AIDS, small group discussions, motivational talks on need to take action against AIDS and dissemination of relevant information. Apart from the orientation programs, FOCUS has also facilitated talks, either directly or through the associates in other students’ forum on the above issues.
In terms of future plans, FOCUS hopes to consolidate its capacity on integration of HIV/AIDS to Christian ministry among the students.For more information and partnership, get in touch with us on 0721221648 and email: