“After diagnosis HIV-positive people have to find ways of living psychologically healthy lives, and they need extensive counselling to be able to do this.   This need will soon far exceed the capacity of all the trained counselors in sub-Saharan Africa…… everyone in the helping professions must therefore urgently acquire the skills of effective HIV/AIDS counselling.”  By extension, HIV/AIDS education is the starting point in both prevention and management of this disease and we literally need “all hands on deck”.

Alta van Dyk, HIV/AIDS Care & Counselling, a Multidisciplinary Approach, Fourth Edition.

So why do we have peer educators?

Traditionally, education has always been a top-down endeavour with the learned imparting information to those who are not so learned!  Health education was always in the hands of medical professionals but latest trends in education as well as the HIV/AIDS pandemic has necessitated a re-look at what works on ground level.

Relevant literature on HIV/AIDS peer education discusses 10 frequently used justifications, for adopting peer education:

  • It is more cost-effectivethan other methods;
  • Peers are a credible sourceof information
  • Peer education is empoweringfor those involved
  • It utilizes an already establishedmeans of sharing information and advice
  • Peers are more successful than professionals in passing on information because people identify with their peers
  • Peer educators act as positive role models
  • Peer education is beneficial to those involved in providing it
  • Education presented by peers may be acceptable when other education is not
  • Peer education can be used to educate those who are hard to reachthrough conventional methods
  • Peers can reinforcelearning through on-going contact

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Posted by Stella Heuer 4 June 2013