ICTs and the fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic
To achieve positive results in the fight against HIV/AIDS ICTs should be taken on board. HIV/AIDS information should be found everywhere i.e. radio, cell phone, TV and internet. ICTs make HIV/AIDS information easily accessible, confidential and user friendly.
ICT is an acronym that many people up to now are not familiar with. It is surprising to find out that some of the university students in Zambia are not familiar with the acronym. But on the other hand, when you talk of computers and cell phones even ordinary children will be able to tell what they are and their use. Whether people do not know that computers and cell phones fall in the category of ICTs is something questionable.
Anyway despite our knowledge in ICTs (Information and Communication Technology) or not the truth of the matter is that we all at one time listen to radios, watch TV, used cell phones, computers and other communication devices. This in short is an indication that a good percent of our population have access to ICTs. With the development of technology ICTs have become more and more accessible to everyone including the rural community. In Zambia companies like Zambia Telecommunication Company (ZAMTEL), MTN and more especially Celtel have done a great job of making more remote areas access the communication gateway.
Services such as internet access provided by Celtel on the cell phone will certainly go along way in making sure that rural population does not lag behind in terms of information access. This information will make them make informed decisions. In terms of HIV/AIDS the service will enable them access confidential information about the pandemic.
ICTs over the years have been used for different purposes like development but now the question that remains unclear is how ICTs can be used effectively in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In Zambia where the majority of the population is a youthful population the incorporation of ICTs in the fight against the pandemic would without doubt make a significant impact. One University of Zambia fourth year student said and I quote, “Accessing HIV/AIDS information through written materials like books and brochures or visiting clinics is an archaic method that I don’t think I can use. Everything should be simple, I should just go on the internet and have everything at my fingertip about AIDS,” he said.
He noted that HIV/AIDS was a disease that was attached with a lot of misconceptions that when one was seen accessing any materials on the subject, that person would be regarded as immoral. Technology should make things easy by making such information accessible through the mobile phones so that no one can know you are accessing it, so he says.
The greatest advantage of ICTs is that they can reach out to remotest areas. With this advantage ICTs can be used to create information structures that would serve to implement preventive HIV/AIDS activities by improving access to information and raising awareness among youths in these areas. ICTs promote access to comprehensive and reliable youth-friendly information in quest of behavioural changes. It also seeks to encourage a spirit of analysis on the part of the youth involved on how to use ICT more actively in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
So through the innovative use of ICTs youths and even adults can have access to HIV/AIDS programmes that can meet their needs. For example through the use of the internet adolescents and youths can create and exchange knowledge and experiences with their peers. In Zambia where some remote areas still lag behind in terms of HIV/AIDS information ICTs can provide a unique opportunity for easy access to the much needed information. Tele-health and online medical interaction should take a new dimension in Zambia.
Therefore, to achieve positive results in the fight against HIV/AIDS ICTs should be taken on board. HIV/AIDS information should be found everywhere i.e. radio, cell phone, TV and internet. ICTs make HIV/AIDS information easily accessible, confidential and user friendly.
It is from this background of the importance ICTs can play in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS that OneWorld Africa decided to re-launch the School Youth AIDS Project in order to continue giving the pupils in the Seven schools involved in the Project to discuss and debate HIV/AIDS related issues to be shared on the D-group on the internet so that other youths all over the glob can have access to it. The schools involved in the Project include; Hillcrest, Fatima Girls, St. Pauls, Kafue Boys, Kansenshi, Chikola and Carlitas High Schools.
The main objective of the Project is to reduce HIV/AIDS and STIs by promoting information sharing by youth AIDS clubs from the seven schools. As it is always said that information is power, it is also expected that if youths are armed with HIV/AIDS information they will have the power to prevent HIV/AIDS and grow up into responsible adults free from the AIDS threat.
So if you want to be equipped with HIV/AIDS latest information keep visiting www.aidschannel.org