"When we talk about HIV prevention, we tend to frame it as a medical challenge and of course it is one," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post's "Impact" blog. "To accelerate the progress in the AIDS response we must reduce transmission and people's exposure to the virus," but "ending AIDS is as much a social challenge as a clinical one," he continues. "One of the clearest lessons of the past three decades is that illiteracy and poverty fuel the spread of HIV and that education can slow it," he states, adding, "Education -- not just sex education but literacy, numeracy, critical-thinking and global citizenship -- is the social equivalent of a vaccine, and it's already available for clinical use."
"That's why I and other health advocates so strongly support Education First, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's new effort to expand and improve schooling around the world," Sidibe continues, detailing the initiative, which he writes "could open new pathways to peace, economic development and environmental sustainability." "The world has made immense progress since the year 2000, when 189 countries signed the groundbreaking Millennium Development Goals," but, "where education is concerned, our progress has not gone far enough and our promises to children are still unmet," he states. "Education First is the blueprint for a brighter future, but it won't succeed without steadfast commitment from all sectors of society, including governments and funders as well as students and families," he writes, concluding, "Ending AIDS is possible -- and education is the key to success" (9/26).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.