HIV/AIDS: 46 responses to a global challenge

HIV Prevention amongst adolescents in schools in Kolkata, India

Von Chandon Chattopadhyay / Calcutta Project Basel

Adolescence is a transitional period wherein a young individual undergoes physical and emotional changes. Support and education is essential at this stage. Schools provide an optimal environment to ensure this support and education.

Young people are among the most vulnerable groups of HIV/AIDS. School AIDS education is one of the important programmes to raise awareness levels, to help young people resist peer pressure and develop a safe and responsible lifestyle. Health needs, especially the reproductive and mental issues, should be taken in consideration.

Many young people can be reached easily through schools; no other institutional system can reach the same number of young people. Prevention and health promotion programmes should begin at the earliest possible age, and certainly before the onset of sexual activity. They should reach students before most of them leave or drop out of school, particularly in countries where girls tend to leave school at a younger age. As the beginning of sexual life generally starts between 18-21 years in India, the target group is selected in the age group 14 – 17 (Classes IX and X). The primary level would be too early to start with sexual education in Indian context. Education about AIDS is more effective when students are familiar with sexual education, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and community health in general. It helps if there is an understanding of the relationship between personal behaviour and health. Education also has a greater impact when there are opportunities to develop such qualities as decision making and communication skills, resistance to persuasion and a sense of self-reliance and self-esteem.

Activities of S. B. Devi Charity Home (SBDCH) in schools: The Health Check up Programme for School Children (HCPSC) has started in 1998. When the team of doctors and health workers visits schools, the school’s all students are examined. The health team carries out physical examinations, but also makes the children aware of healthy nutrition, the importance of good personal hygiene and HIV & STDs. This is not only taught to the students but also to the teachers and parents, so that proper education will be continued at school, but also at home. SBDCH has established in the schools a counselling cell for the school children, their teachers and parents. Here we attempt to cover the different determinants of behaviour, like culture, education, socio-economic status, and family traditions. Considering these we inform about the sexual transmission of diseases and stress the importance of using safe sex practices, in particular the use of condom, but we try to promote also different ways of live one’s sexuality. Information on the risks related to blood donations, needle sharing and other skin piercing procedures are discussed.

Conclusion: Education remains an crucial component of our efforts to prevent HIV infection and AIDS in school children and young adults. We are trying to teach all students on the transmission of the disease, prognosis of the disease, measures of prevention of the disease so that when they start their sexual life they have a complete information of HIV.

Swiss organisation(s)

Calcutta Project, Basel


S. B. Devi Charity Home

Key words

Prevention and health promotion
Children and orphans

Land, region

India, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Time frame

since 1998, ongoing


Calcutta Project
4031 Basel
Tel. 061 302 75 16

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