ICT should be taken on board to fight HIV and AIDS
The fight against HIV and AIDS has become an important endeavour, especially in Southern Africa, a region most severely affected by the HIV pandemic in the world.
For the past 10 years, there has been major progress in efforts to halt the spread of this pandemic by national governments and development partners.
New infections among adults have declined by more than 50 percent in Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe and by more than 25 percent in Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa.
The number of new infections among children has dropped from 330 000 in 2001 to 180 000 in 2011.
Despite the progress, there are still 17.1 million adults and children living with the virus in Eastern and Southern Africa, and the figure continues to increase as antiretroviral treatment ensures millions of people with HIV can now live longer.
The Sixth United Nations Millennium Development (MDG 6) is to defeat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases by 2015 and in order to achieve positive results in the fight against HIV/AIDS, information communication technology (ICTs) should be taken on board in reaching out to communities, especially youths who typically embrace the use of technology for entertainment, learning, and communication.
The use of ICT may be useful in helping fulfil to the MDGs by halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The use of ICT helps disseminate information more rapidly even to the remote areas through mediums like radio, television and the World Wide Web.
ICT provides a basic infrastructure and secondly it enables us to develop innovative products and services.
ICT interventions have been used in a variety of fields for preventive education such as smoking and major depressive disorders and it proves its effectiveness.
Internet and cell phones have been identified as feasible technologies to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention programs in order to target groups with high risk, such as early adolescent females.
Since HIV/AIDS education for youth is a challenge because many feel uncomfortable when talking with adults about these topics, privacy and flexibility are advantages of using ICT supported HIV/AIDS preventive education directed at youth.
Other benefits for using ICT as a tool to fight HIV/AIDS include low cost of service delivery and greater intervention fidelity and enhanced flexibility in dissemination means.
It is important to consider the need to find novel and effective ICT solutions for enhancing protective attitudes among the specific target groups for HIV/AIDS preventive education research that investigates the ways in which treatment information is being met by HIV/AIDS community members and how technology fits into this process.
The use of ICT can play a very important role in fulfil the goal of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
It makes HIV/AIDS information easily accessible, confidential and user friendly. Currently there is a lot of information available and data from all over the world that is available through the internet.
We can use ICT to disseminate information on meetings, conferences, workshops, seminars and trainings on HIV/ AIDS through different web pages that deal with issues of HIV/AIDS.
With the availability of ICT, we can also create chat pages available for youths interested in talking and discussing their views and fears about the disease.
All these wide dissemination of knowledge is a step towards raising awareness to communities and giving the youth a voice to raise their views and opinions.
In Western countries, one can identify several examples of ICT-based HIV/AIDS preventive education solutions that Southern Africa region can learn from.
For instance, in United States various technology supported HIV/AIDS preventive solutions have been implemented to target HIV positive adults men who have sex with fellow men, HIV positive adolescents and at-risk young adults.
The programs aimed at reducing risky behaviour, and increasing STD/HIV knowledge, HIV/AIDS awareness and condom use.
For instance, online educational resources were implemented in order to distribute information about HIV/AIDS-related conferences, workshops and preventive issues.
Also, various SMS solutions have been implemented in U.S.A to increase HIV/AIDS preventive knowledge. Therefore, Now that everybody owned a cell phone, let’s use it to disseminate information about HIV and AIDS. Remember we can do better!