Unique Approach to Educating Teens About HIV/AIDS

TENA, ECUADOR (March 8, 2012) – The teenagers of this tiny village knew nothing about HIV/AIDS, although the disease continues to spread across the country, so Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Kim Delp says she is excited to be part of a team that is imparting knowledge through a program of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Ecuador (IPEE).

F.A.C.E., the social outreach arm of the Ecuador denomination, asked Delp as well as short-term missionary Mandy Hjelm to participate in the project that will run four weeks and include speakers from the Red Cross. At first, Delp did not know how they were going to fill the five hours allotted for the instruction.

As Delp and Hjelm learned, however, the teens living in the village that is a four-hour rough ride from Quito had little knowledge of the basic science related to the disease.
“There are a lot of young people who are putting themselves at risk and not even knowing or understanding why,” Delp says. She adds that most of the people who contract HIV/AIDS are between the ages of 15 and 24.

Throughout the day, the instructors use games to help students learn the important concepts. One game demonstrates how the immune system works, how HIV attacks it, and how medications work.

“Basically, there was one person, the human standing in the middle surrounded in a circle by germs,” says Delp. “Inside the circle, there is the immune system. The germs then try to hit the human with a ball, but the immune system blocks the germs from hitting the human.”

The leaders introduced how HIV works in the second round of games. The students’ hands were held behind their backs to simulate what happens to the immune system when HIV attacks. Round three educates the students on how antiretroviral drugs work. People representing the drugs hold the HIV’s arms behind their backs to show that the immune system is freed to protect humans.

The final round simulates what happens to the body when a person transitions to AIDS. “AIDS held the arms of both the immune system and ARV’s (antiretroviral drugs) because at this point, AIDS has taken over the body,” Delp says. The activities lead to a lot of discussion, Delp says.

Delp says she is glad to have the opportunity over the next three weeks to continue educating teens about the disease. Click here to learn more of her insights.

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