Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dec 1: World AIDS Day

What some of you may not know about the country where I currently serve, but Ukraine has the fastest growing HIV rate and the largest population of reported HIV infected individuals in all of Europe. Sadly it's a very hushed/controversial subject (understandably) where even in schools the main aspects regarding HIV transmission is just overlooked and untaught. Furthermore, a large proportion of Ukraine's older generation is under the pretense that this issue isn't one of Ukraine's, but of that of other third world countries.
1.4% of Ukraine's population is reported HIV positive
1% is the minimum requirement to be considered an epidemic
the tourism regions of the south are highly affected
While working in Kozelets, the lesson I taught on HIV/AIDS had to be "edited" due to sensitivity issues. I was glad to hear that in my new school had an open policy and a faculty mentality that all the information should be available for it's students to hear. 

 anti AIDS posters students made at my school

The HIV/AIDS working group provided lots of material and ideas to jump start my lessons and trainings I have sense held on the topic. Using my school as a gauge, I have sense held Healthy Lifestyle training sessions on HIV/AIDS, stigma/discrimination, smoking, and alcoholism at what I think is up to six different schools in neighboring villages! While obviously I don't teach in perfect Ukrainian and I'm thankful for my Ukrainian partner to back me up, it's been a great way to meet and reach an audience of students outside my own school. Not to mention utilize some of my micro bio knowledge!

I did a showing of A Closer Walk which features Ukraine as one of the three countries it focuses on in regards to the AIDS crisis. If interested, I highly recommend you to watch it - my students found it very personal.

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