Information and Prevention on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (HIV/AIDS/STDs) to High-School Students in Lazio, Italy
Project location: ITALY, Lazio
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: This project covers various years
Project number: 2012-045
Beneficiary: Associazione Nazionale per la Lotta contro L'AIDS - Sezione Laziale
Timeline of this report From September 15, 2011 to September 15, 2012
The impact of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world is continuously growing, especially among young people aged between 14 to 25 years. Every year, a teenager out of 20 contracted a STD. They are the most vulnerable as there is the tendency to have multiple partners, underestimation and /or misinformation about the infection, use of alcohols and drugs and indifference being subjected to medical checks.
Among the sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection is very common and each year, in Italy, there are about 4000 new cases of infection, of which about 400 are estimated in Rome.
The sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented through programs, more directed to the young ages, of information and education to practice responsible sexual behavior.
Therefore, Anlaids Lazio Onlus promotes Schools Project since 2003/2004. The targets were and still are:
1. To increase knowledge about HIV/STD,
2. To reflect on risk behavior,
3. To prevent HIV/STD.
The most important part of this plan was the involvement of students who can become from passive listeners to actors of their life and their experience in accordance with the information given, received and discussed together.
The project in 2011/2012 developed in three steps:
1.1- Pre-test: it was required to value student's knowledge about HIV disease and infection.
1.2- Fixed meetings: meetings with classes through an exchange of ideas and dialogue. During these lessons some slides were shown to give an example of clinical cases or risky situations before which the unconscious students could find themselves.
This stage was called " basic" , in opposite to " in-depth course " placed in more advanced classrooms, where the project regarded other sexual diseases too.
1.3- Post-test: the operators , at the end of the meetings, gave the post-tests, in order to verify and compare the new level of knowledge.
The schools, that have agreed on the project, usually asked for regular meetings with experts. In fact, professionals (doctors, psychologists, biologists) together with Anlaids Lazio volunteers and, on request, HIV positive people were part of the project team. Their task was to explain, in collaboration with the National Institute for infections diseases " Lazzarro Spallanzani", the differences among HIV, AIDS and STD.
During 2011/2012 the schools involved in the plan had been 58 ( 53 in Rome; 3 in Latina; 2 in Rieti); 9000 students had been reached; basic courses had been 182 ( HIV/AIDS) and 52 " in-depth course" (HIV/AIDS/STD).
2. Assessment of phases
Analysing the pre-tests filled by students, it is possible to note that HIV transmission goes by:
- blood 75%
- semen 68%
- vaginal discharges 53%
- pre-ejaculatory fluid 37%
2.2- Basic meeting
Each meeting began with a brief description of Anlaids-section-lazio projects pursued for many years all over Lazio. The operators (an expert and a volunteer) explained, through slides, what is HIV, how it interacts with the human body and the immune system; particularly the paths used (ducts ). Moreover, they answered all the students questions, clarified doubts and suggested methods of prevention.
After these lessons, the post test showed that the percentages about the transmission of virus were changed:
- blood 95%
- semen 75%
- vaginal discharges 77%
- pre-ejaculatory fluid 57%
These numbers indicated the growth of correct answers, and highlighted the importance of a continuous and urgent information.
In this section the operators had to deepen the STD, the means of transmission and prevention by using tests as well as other forms of interaction like role playing. This was to capture the attention of students and facilitate the learning of key messages for protection of their health.
Despite the basic meeting, in these tests, the students answers were still wrong. Especially regarding the ducts (not all the sexual fluids were dangerous), and some of them wrote that it was hard to live near a HIV positive. But no one had doubts to wear condom in intercourses. Regarding the " window period" only 50% has given a correct answer. 1/5 has considered it the incubation period. We have to consider this as a mistake because HIV/AIDS virus don't have incubation period. This showed the importance of a continuous and urgent information as the transmission of the virus take place any time.
3.2- In- depth meeting
During these courses students learnt all about the STD, their infection and how to prevent. Moreover, carried on the basic meetings where there were still lack of information.
3.3- Post test
In this phase it was possible to see net improvement of the right answers. If someone forgot to mention the pre-ejaculatory fluid, someone else added infected breast milk, although it wasn't among the options. This revealed their attentive participation in class meetings.
In general terms more than 80% of the students knew what STD are, the existence of anonymous laboratory HIV test, how to prevent infection.
The tests showed the need to provide the correct information about the various channels of HIV transmission, in particular the vaginal secretions and the liquid pre ejaculatory (as the percentage of correct responses were lower). The pre and post test underlined how the students deepend their knowledge as a result of the meetings.