Help End HIV Epidemic With Better Education

Maya Guy Teaching by Wikimedia Commons

Target: Aurelio Nuño Mayer, Mexico’s Secretary of the Secretariat of Public Education

Goal: Teach more thorough sexual health education in Yucatan, the Mexican state ranking first in new cases of HIV.

The Maya people are at a greater risk of HIV for a variety of reasons–a lack of education, different cultural practices, rising migration, and a history of poverty all contribute. Migrants are three times more likely to get HIV.  The state is also third in HIV cases for female patients, and cases are likely under-reported.

Researchers Rocio Quintal Lopez and Ligia Vera Gamboa of Yucatan Autonomous University found that myths about HIV transmission are common in 60 percent of the Maya population; washing genitals does not prevent the spread of the disease and sharing utensils does not spread it. Sexual health education is an excellent way to prevent these misconceptions and help stop the spread of HIV.

People are not going to stop having sex, poverty is a difficult trap to escape, and migration is unlikely to change anytime soon. Education can mitigate those things and change unhealthy cultural practices. According to psychologist Maureen Lyon, PhD, a researcher on the effects of sexual health education, “both comprehensive sex education and abstinence only programs delay the onset of sexual activity. However, only comprehensive sex education is effective in protecting adolescents from pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses at first intercourse and during later sexual activity.”

Many schools in Mexico do not teach comprehensive sexual health education and Mexican schools are notorious for corruption in general. Urge officials to draft better sexual education throughout the nation, especially in Yucatan, to save people from this deadly disease.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Aurelio Nuño Mayer,

Please help stop the spread of HIV and other diseases by encouraging more comprehensive sexual health education in the Yucatan and other indigenous-populated states. It is not enough to merely give someone a condom. People need to be thoroughly taught about their sexuality in order to best combat sexually transmitted diseases.

Sexual health education has improved in Mexico but there is still room for improvement, considering that 60 pecent of Maya people believe in HIV myths. If you work on improving your school system, you will surely see a correlation in lowered HIV rates.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: FA2010

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