The content of this post originally appeared in The Roll Out, a Newsletter of CDC-Ethiopia and Partners, in December 2013.
Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in Higher Education Institutions
Since the issue of HIV/AIDS was brought forward as one of the major health challenges of Ethiopia, lots of public and private organizations, including higher education institutions (HEI) in the country have been responding to it in many different ways. The interventions in most of these HEIs are characterized by sidelined, on the fringe activities with lack of coordination and sustainability. As HIV/AIDS continues to be a threat and constitutes a big problem among colleges and universities in Ethiopia, there is a need for comprehensive, prompt and sustainable programming. Mainstreaming brings HIV/AIDS to the center of these organizations’ agendas along with the core activities, integrating it into the main objectives of the institutions.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors in Ethiopia (NASTAD Ethiopia), CDC Ethiopia’s partner, has been working in collaboration with Federal and Regional HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Offices (HAPCOs) and HEI’s partnership forum to introduce and strengthen HIV/AIDS mainstreaming in six public and private higher education institutions (Dire Dawa, Bahirdar, Ambo, Dilla Universities, Addis Ababa Tegbared Technical and Vocational College and St. Mary’s University College). The six institutions were provided with HIV/AIDS mainstreaming trainings, and then close follow-up and technical assistance was provided. Intermittent program monitoring was conducted to track progress.
Even though the levels of HIV/AIDS mainstreaming in the six institutions varies slightly, all of them endorsed AIDS policies and all but one have established HIV units in their organizational structures and assigned full time staff. With the exception of one, all have conducted risk assessments and prepared comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention plans and allocated budgets. Four AIDS resource centers have been established for students and the university community to access up-to-date information and learning materials on HIV/AIDS. The presence of an education sector AIDS policy, the establishment of a higher education institution partnership forum and the conducive environment in the universities and colleges were among the favorable conditions that contributed to the successful HIV mainstreaming in the six institutes.
Lack of dedicated staff members and less coordination with surrounding communities were major challenges of the program, in addition to the absence of HIV as a core activity and inadequate support from the Ministry of Education. The successful experiences of these six HEIs confirm that mainstreaming serves a more sustainable purpose in HIV prevention, control and care within and beyond university campuses.
Visit NASTAD.org/global to learn more about the NASTAD Global Program.