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HIV / AIDS awareness and prevention


In 1994-95, KSP volunteers conducted an HIV / AIDS prevention and awareness program and screened the Taplejung district for HIV

HIV / AIDS awareness

AIDS is a sensitive topic, especially in traditional cultures, so KSP introduced the subject using pre-recorded cassette tapes simulating informal conversations in a Nepali tea-shop. Expatriate Nepalese from the San Francisco Bay area helped to record the tapes, which discussed AIDS prevention, modes of transmission, symptoms, and outcome. The tapes proved to be the highlight of the program. Six tape players and 20 cassettes were distributed to health posts, schools, and tea-shops in the Taplejung District.

KSP was not so na´ve as to believe that this program would change significantly already well-established behavioural patterns, or would remove the underlying causes of the spread of HIV / AIDS, such as extremes of poverty and imbalances of power. Rather, KSP sought to educate people about HIV / AIDS and to address discriminative practices. In these areas, the cassette tapes appeared to satisfy a real need and were well received.

Demographic survey and HIV screening

After the educational program, KSP conducted a complete demographic survey and collected and tested blood samples, in collaboration with Dr. Denis Henrad of Abbott Laboratories, to determine the prevalence of HIV in Taplejung District. All of the 350 subjects tested proved negative.

A further 100 subjects were then analysed, this time looking at wealth, education, and access to health care, as well as screening for AIDS. Wealth was measured in acres of land; healthcare access was measured by the number of children and whether they had been vaccinated. A report prepared in collaboration with Dr Jerome Gournay, research fellow at the UCSF Medical Center, describing the methods and materials is available on request. See CONTACT US.

KSP concluded from this survey and analysis that:

• Continued HIV / AIDS education is justified, even though there remain
   glaring inadequacies in the current educational system, not only in the
   Kangchenjunga region, but throughout Nepal.

• There is a statistically significant relationship between education and
   condom use.

• Education varies with ethnicity and gender. The Sherpas and Tibetans in
   the Taplejung District are less well educated than any other ethnic
   group. Among all ethnic groups, women are twice as likely as men to
   have no education at all. Tibetan women fare worst, making them and
   their children the most vulnerable.

This kind of research helps us evaluate our past projects and to direct our future efforts.

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