Tuesday, October 28, 2008

P2P is The Way To Be

By Thomas Henning

Kids today need to know accurate facts about HIV/AIDS.

I read a story earlier this week about a suburban St. Louis, Missouri high school in which 50 students might have been exposed to HIV infection. The details are not yet known as to how the exposure might have occurred, or who the individual was who tipped of the county health department, but swift steps were taken by the school district to contain the damage.

According to AP/Google.com, the school district is consulting with national HIV/AIDS organizations in order to “minimize the fallout and prevent the infection – and misinformation – from spreading.” Students from the entire school, which encompasses several towns, are able to receive confidential testing at six stations in the gymnasium. And school superintendent has called two meetings between parents and ministers in the community to increase talks about responsible behavior; he also acknowledges that the students in grades four through 12 have had classes to discuss such behaviors, and their consequences including HIV/AIDS.

While I applaud the school district for not digressing into the 1990’s hysteria we’re all used to seeing in these types of situations, and calling his community into action, I think there’s some new methods of education for students that, after this incident, all schools should be looking into: Cable Positive’s own Youth AIDS Media Institute (YAMI).

It’s no secret kids talk to each other differently than in a classroom setting, think back to your high school days; remember when calculus sounded like a foreign language before that group study session?

Research suggests that personalized messaging, and messaging coming from a source that individuals deem to be like them, facing the same concerns and pressures, is more impactful and more likely to change ones behavior and attitude. I am of this school of thought and believe that kids teaching kids about issues that affect them tremendously like HIV/AIDS, is more impactful and lasting than hearing about it from an adult, in most cases many years their elder.

The goal of YAMI is to promote peer to peer HIV/AIDS education among today’s youth, by stressing the correct facts about HIV/AIDS and empowering kids to spread awareness messages using today’s multiplatform media devices like cell phones and the internet to get the job done.

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