Public health officials estimate one in four adult South Africans realistically can claim “comprehensive HIV awareness.” Only a quarter of South Africans have working knowledge of how the disease affects the body, how it spreads, how to recognize its symptoms, and what to do in case of exposure. Comprehensive HIV awareness includes the ability to separate fact from myth and panic from prevention. Officials fear the rate of comprehensive HIV awareness among disadvantaged South African adults falls below 10%. Less than 10% of all South African young adults between 18 and 25 regularly practice safe sex; even fewer ask new sex partners about their health status.
HIV/AIDS has ravaged all of Africa and initiatives to promote HIV awareness among the groups most at risk still fall short of their goals. Because they command young people’s trust and respect, educators especially must grow new initiatives to develop their students’ HIV awareness.