Be HIV Positive - Bishop's School Presentations Report
June 7, 2006 - Standard 8 Class - 350 Students
June 9, 2006 - Standard 9 & 10 Classes - 600 Students
June 13, 2006 - Junior Colleges 11 & 12 - 117 Students
The Deep Griha DISHA team together with the team from Sahara Care Home made three presentations to Bishop's School over the last week. Presentations were made to three different groups - standard 8, 9 & 10, and junior colleges of 11 & 12. The presentations were tailored to each respective age group, ensuring active participation and thorough comprehension.
The presentation began with an introduction of Deep Griha, DISHA, Sahara and the people involved with the extensive project. It then delved into the issue at hand. In an interactive manner, Hans Billimoria, accompanied by a comprehensive and illustrative powerpoint, explained and described HIV/AIDS, its origins, stages, transmission, and effects. Hans first selected random students from the audience to represent the white blood cells of the immune system, the HIV virus, as well as the diseases of diarrhea, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. He then chose students to represent nutrition and vitamins and showed how these could protect against the intruding diseases which easily attacked the immune system 'touched' by the HIV virus. Not only did this presentation clearly demonstrate an abstract biomedical concept, but also did so in an educational way that would stay in the minds of the students for years to come.
The section on how one contracts HIV was crucial. Of the students who volunteered answers for how HIV is spread, some stated facts such as infection through unprotected sex, contaminated needles, and infected mothers nursing their children. Yet, others believed infection myths such as "violent smooching," "unethical sexual practices," and "homosexuality." First of all, these responses highlight the need for education on how HIV is actually contracted. Secondly, they manifest how moralized HIV/AIDS is: if sex is considered unethical, anyone who contracts HIV may also be considered an unethical person-thereby explaining why a stigma began and why it maintains a stronghold on society. Thirdly, the belief that homosexuality infects one with HIV manifests the flawed myths students are told by their parents, religious institutions, and larger societies as a whole. Moreover, these were only the answers provided by about ten of the students. Who knows what the students who did not volunteer answers were thinking about how HIV is contracted? Specifically, the explanations on needing 6 buckets of saliva to possibly contract HIV and whether infection can occur from dried blood on a barber's razor proved needed as there was much confusion on these real life examples. Thus, much education is needed to supplant the myths surrounding the epidemic and to stop the stigma.
Overall, the presentations were interactive, engaging and thought provoking. The DISHA presentation effectively fostered a community in which HIV/AIDS is combated by filling in crucial gaps in the adolescents' knowledge of the epidemic and which will ultimately join in the fight against HIV/AIDS in India.