Reducing HIV/AIDS in young people in Sub-Sahara Africa: gaps in research and the role of theory

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


This paper discusses the role of education in preventing HIV in children and young people in sub-Sahara Africa and presents the results of policy advisory research conducted on behalf of the Belgian Development Cooperation. The research consisted of a literature review and a field study in Rwanda. Relative to the high number of HIV prevention activities in sub-Sahara Africa, there is a limited number of scientific data on HIV risk reduction interventions for young people in this region. Longitudinal studies are especially scarce. Preliminary results show that many interventions have only a marginal impact on reducing sexual risk behaviour. Factors influencing programme effectiveness include the consistency and accuracy of messages and information, the provision of life-skills, social support and access to contraceptives, the intensity and duration of the programme, the training of the facilitators and the age of the target population. The HIV/ AIDS pandemic has a potentially devastating impact on the education sector. Because few countries have monitoring systems in place that quantify the absenteeism, morbidity and mortality of teachers and students infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, there is only anecdotal evidence available for illustrating this impact. The final section discusses the current gaps in research and the important role of theory in increasing the impact and improving the evaluations of HIV/AIDS education interventions.


Africa Focus