Schools targeted as safe-sex message loses impact

HEALTH ministers are urgently discussing a revised strategy for Aids and HIV education for young people - because experts believe that the safe-sex message has lost all impact.

School governors and headteachers would be targeted in a new Health Education Authority campaign to get schools to toughen their approach. It is understood that recent newspaper coverage of Aids, which has played down the risk of infection among heterosexuals, has increased pressure on the HEA to devise a more effective campaign. A study released last week by Goldsmith's College, London, concluded that teenagers see HIV as a 'remote' danger.

In Amsterdam today, at the opening session of the eighth International Conference on Aids, more than 9,000 delegates from 120 countries will hear that the global epidemic is 'heading out of control', with a predicted 20 million people infected with HIV worldwide by 1995. The majority of these infections will have occurred heterosexually.

Although awareness of Aids and HIV among young people is high - HEA advertising campaigns regularly reach 80 per cent of the target group - studies show that their sexual behaviour has not changed since 1988. Teenagers are having sexual intercourse at a younger age but failing to use condoms regularly. The HEA has previously dealt with local education authorities, but with the growing autonomy of many schools, it feels this strategy is no longer practicable.

'Headteachers and governors are the new 'gatekeepers' in schools and we need to form new alliances with them,' an HEA source said.

The Government has said that Aids and HIV must be covered as part of the science core curriculum. However, experts say that this will lead to the same problems that have hampered general sex education. Teenagers learn basic facts in biology lessons which bear little relevance to their own lives. Health education, of which sex education is a part, is not mandatory but a cross-curriculum subject. In most schools, teachers do not have time to do anything effective about Aids/HIV in cross-curriculum teaching.

There is also a feeling that many teachers and governors are reluctant to have Aids-related issues, such as high- risk sexual behaviour, homosexuality, drug use or condoms, discussed in the classroom.

A recent survey in the London area showed that one in five schools had no policy on sex education and only 38 per cent of teachers had received training in HIV and Aids.

'Headteachers and governors have a responsibility to prepare children for adult life. Those who are worried about parents who don't wish their children to learn about it are mistaken,' the HEA source said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence