2005. 64 p.
Loyo de López, Esthela
Fernandez Lazala, Rafael
Dominican Republic has a notably young population-61% of the population is aged from 15 to 24 years. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reports that more than half of new HIV infections occur in this age range, which makes the promotion of preventive measures include risk-reductive behaviours important at the national level and, in particular, in places where youngsters interact on a daily basis, such as university campuses.There is evidence that college students in the Dominican Republic have heard about sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), HIV and AIDS. They have also heard about modes of transmission, possible preventive measures, and more or less about the causes of these diseases. But they do not seem to take this knowledge and apply it to their lives. Instead, there is evidence that youth are adopting risky sexual practices. More than 70% of college students at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) report being sexually active. This clearly influences their attitude toward HIV/AIDS but does not seem to be leading to risk reductive behaviours. Condom use, peer influence, sense of vulnerability, monogamy and skills of conduct are known to be key elements to reduce high risk behaviours, so the strategies involved must take this on account, but students do not seem to perceive the risk. There is need for a structured, organised university response with specific objectives. This should include integration of HIV-related information into the core curricula of conferences, classes, and videos on sexual education in all the faculties, with particular emphasis on the Engineering Sciences. This should include information about the nature of the disease and its consequences, how to prevent HIV infection, and treatment options. HIV/AIDS must be put in focus since there is no cure or vaccine against it at the moment, and because the major general population at risk is young people aged 15 to 24 years old-the university age population. The work presented here is a serious, honest, evaluation of PUCMM's institutional response to date. There are strengths as well as weakness in its response-further efforts are needed to scale up and deepen the positive aspects and address the negative ones.
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