Mira Road: Riddhi Dhure (14), is getting lessons in Sex Education so that she can educate her peers about the same. In a novel initiative to impart Sex Education and create awareness about AIDS/HIV among youngsters, the Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira Road has begun training a group of school and college students. With an emphasis on Indian values, the training programme is aimed at encouraging youngsters to abstain from sex.
“We were conducting seminars on HIV/AIDS in schools between Borivli and Bhayander and found that a majority of students didn’t know about venereal diseases,” said Dr Ajay Sankhe, director of the hospital. Pointing out that youngsters between the age group of 14 and 24 were falling prey to HIV/AIDS, Sankhe said, “Instead of telling our children to use condoms and thus encourage sex at a young age, we decided to teach them good values and keep them away from sex.”
The hospital sent out letters asking school and college principals to depute students to become HIV/AIDS resource persons for the hospital. “The response has been overwhelming. Over 100 students have shown interest and we expect more to join soon,” said Dr Sandhya Subramanian, chief coordinator of the training programme.
Even parents, who would have otherwise avoided discussing the issue with their wards, gave the go ahead to their children. “Being a resource person will not only broaden my horizon, but will also help me reach out to my friends. My mother was only too happy that I was gaining knowledge about sex and HIV/AIDS,” said Pankay Upadhyay, a Std IX student who is currently undergoing the training.
Doctors teaching the students are not shying away from using the word sex while discussing HIV/AIDS with students. “Right at the start of our programme, we made it clear to the students that sex is not a taboo,” said Dr Dhaval Dalal, chief physician at the hospital. “While we tell students that sex is a basic element of human existence, we also tell them that indulging in sex at a young age is not part of our culture,” said Dalal.
Dhure, a Std IX student from N L Dalmia School in Mira Road, is only too happy to have participated in the training programme. “A yearand-a-half later, I will be in college. It is important to know about sex,” said Dhure.
So while the World Health Organisation propagates the use of condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS, “we are educating the students about the dangers of this disease and telling them that the best way of preventing it is to go back to our Indian culture and tradition of abstinence rather than indulgence”, said Dr Subramanian.