The concept of peer education in HIV prevention
The use of peer education in HIV prevention have been known as an effective tool in any HIV prevention program. The main reason is because it is very easy for peers to exchange and share mutual discussions and feelings. Peers believes that confidential information about their personal life is safe among themselves, they are more than a family, just like the popular saying “Birds of the same feather flock together”.
Furthermore, various researchers have documented that peer education is a very effective approach in reaching the youth with sexual and reproductive health information & education as well as counselling. This is because our tradition, norms and values do not promote discussion on sexuality between parents and their children. This approach has been found to be successful as it builds on the natural instinct which propels young people to depend on each other for this kind of information, especially in an environment where significant adults are unable to provide the needed information.
For young people to develop healthy sexual and reproductive behaviour, trainers/peer educators need to help them discover their ability:
1. To learn through experience.
2. To talk confidently and openly about their thoughts and feelings.
3. To effectively make the right decisions.
Let us look at some few definitions for proper understanding of what peer education is all about and who actually. is a peer educator.
Definition of peer education and a peer educator
Peer Education: This is a program in which people are trained as volunteers to positively influence social behaviour amongst people of similar age and other social characteristics as themselves by providing information, education, skills, services and other help as well as acting as role models.
Youth Peer Educator: this is a trained adolescent or young person who has successfully completed the Peer Educator Training Programme and has developed the necessary skills to lead his/her peers, and assist with counselling and educating them.
Importance of Peer Educators in HIV Prevention
We have seen the definition of peer education and who exactly is qualified to be called a peer educator. Let us look at the importance of peer educators in HIV prevention, which are as follows:
1. Peer educators are within a larger community and target groups, so they can influence their peers and have a large impact
2. They can easily communicate well with their peers
3. They will be acceptable to their peers and the target group
4. They are interested in volunteerism
5. They carry out promotional activities (aimed at behavioural change) among their peers
6. They feel rewarded that they can make a difference in the lives of many people
7. Finally, peer educators can bring about positive change in the community they belong to
Criteria for Recruiting Peer Educators
It is not just anyone that is being selected or chosen to become a peer educator, there are certain criteria that needs to be met. If one of your peers wants to be selected as a leader amongst you, what qualities must that person possess to make you and others respect, listen and take advice from him/her? The following are various criteria that needs to be attained by any individual who wishes to become a peer educator. He/she must:
1. Be friendly
2. Be accepted by peers
3. Has a wide social network
4. Be trustworthy and one whom other young person’s naturally turn to for advice
5. Have respect for other people and for confidentiality
6. Be innovative in the sense that s/he could bring new ideas and practices into their peer groups
7. Have the ability to communicate effectively and be assertive
8. Have the ability to work in groups or as a team leader
9. Have an interest in the topic of the project or the intervention
10. Be interested in reaching peers with Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health information
11. Be willing and committed to be trained for a period of time
Qualities of an effective Peer Educator
These are the skills and attributes that must be developed through the peer education training for a person to function as an effective peer educator. The following are the essential qualities of a good peer educator.
1. Knowledgeable about the subject matter
2. Friendly and approachable
3. Able to communicate well with peers
4. Able to speak in front of groups
5. Non-judgmental of peers who come from different backgrounds or hold different views
6. Concerned about the welfare of peers
7. Able to model appropriate behaviour
Roles of Peer Educators
The following are the main and important roles of peer educators.
1. Provide information to their peers either individually or in small group.
2. Conduct community awareness activities.
3. Render assistance in Adolescence Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) issues and HIV prevention.
4. Organize community programs that can bring about behavioural changes.
5. Refer young people to identified linkages within the community.
6. Act as a role model to his/her peers
In summary, we can see that peer education approach to HIV prevention can go a long way in reducing and or preventing the spread of HIV among young people.
The concept of peer education in HIV prevention Reviewed by Chibuzor Aguwa on 4/14/2016 06:06:00 pm Rating: