The most efficient and affordable way to cut the risk of HIV infection in AIDS endemic countries is extended schooling, according to recent results of a study performed on communities in Botswana. The results were published on Monday and are a vivid proof that knowledge is power indeed.
Researchers have collected data from more than 7,018 people in the area and found that a complementary schooling year seriously lowered the risk of HIV infection over the following decade. The number of HIV infected victims met a decrease from about 25% to 17% infected, in the case of students who followed an extra year of secondary school.
The research was strategically performed in the South-African country, an area known to have the highest HIV rates, representing an ideal setting for the study. Botswana met a consistent change in its education system starting with 1996. The reform led to a medium increase of about 10 months in schooling.
HIV risks are strongly related to personal motivation, socioeconomic status, psychological traits and family background. Schooling may be considered the key element of change for AIDS risk factors.
The change in schooling policy presented an exclusive opportunity to estimate the direct effect of education on risks related to HIV infection. Children exposed to the reform showed a higher degree of awareness, self-motivation and much better psychological traits, compared to those unexposed to the change.
Education has always been associated with health and in this case, effects are very strong among women, as each additional year of education reduces infection risks by no less than 12 percent.
Botswana is the country with the highest rates of HIV worldwide, with 22% of adults aged 15-49 reported as infected in 2013. Secondary schooling is the most cost-effective solution for HIV endemic countries. It offers a very high ROI, translated into healthier and longer living, economically active adults.
Students have the chance to gather important information related to prevention and protection, which is essential for a strong and healthy perception over HIV risk factors in particular and life as a whole.
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