|• avoid intercourse if you can; if you must have intercourse, use a condom.|
|• don’t inject drugs; if you must inject, don’t share needles and syringes.|
So what is the problem? Why is prevention difficult? Obviously this is an issue for both men and women but in this chapter I shall explore some of the reasons why prevention is more difficult than it seems, concentrating particularly on why women find it difficult to protect themselves against HIV infection. I shall then go on to look at some of the implications of this for sex education in schools.
My own experience has been as a doctor and counsellor in a youth advisory centre and subsequently as a general practitioner, during which time I also visited schools to talk about relationships, sex and contraception. I have had less involvement in health education but I shall discuss some of the issues that seem to me to be important in mass media health campaigns. I shall also look at some implications for counselling women at risk.
One factor that affects people’s willingness to protect themselves is the extent to which they perceive themselves to be at risk (Aggleton et al. 1988, Stockdale et al. 1989). Much irresponsible journalism, fuelled by pronouncements by some public figures, has led many people to believe that the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV infection is very small. The continuing tendency to talk of ‘high risk groups’ and to attribute blame, has led many people to think that AIDS is something that happens to other people and not to them (Aggleton et al. 1988). Thus heterosexual people may