Though the specter of AIDS shadows the globe, Africa is the experiment we all watch desperately for success. Not only for success, but for hope because if our most difficult challenge can be overcome, no doubt the rest of the world can be saved. Money poured into these nations is often ferreted away by governments for guns and cultural clashes, while orphanages are founded to deal with the children of the dead. We cannot fund corruption. Not only is this money often wasted, but it also an insult to every life that could have been saved by the funding of education programs.
Education is the only foolproof way to eradicate this disease. Holding our collective breath as an international community until scrambling scientists find a cure will only result in collective asphyxiation. By dedicating money to programs that educate citizens of every nation on ways to reduce transmission, we can stem the growth of an epidemic that threatens to end the lives of the more than 38 million people worldwide currently infected with HIV/AIDS.
However, these medical miracles are rare-to-unknown in sub-Saharan Africa. Seventy percent of the world’s AIDS population lives there, that is 25 million people who can expect to die before they can ever hope to afford the medicines pharmaceutical firms say will help them. If people are not made aware of how they can avoid contracting or transmitting this disease, the death rate will continue to accelerate.
Education is not only important in Africa, but in America as well. Needle use and male-to-male sex continue to be the leading means of infection of thousands in Massachusetts each year. Behavior leads to infection, not genetic predisposition or the decree of fate. People need to continually be made aware of how dangerous, even deadly, some of their personal decisions can be.
This process of enlightenment and awareness cannot begin in college or even high school, when many people have already been introduced to the worlds of sex and drugs. School systems need to introduce these most important life lessons into grade school classrooms. While it would be unreasonable to ask for sexual details to be told to young children, there are ways to spread a message of safety.
There are individuals and administrators who insist it is the role of parents to inform their children about the do’s and don’ts of healthy living, but this argument falls short of preserving life. If it is the role of a government to provide for the security of its citizens, any government would be doing a poor job indeed by forgetting the benefits of AIDS education in the classroom.