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The Impact of Art Education on Awareness Campaign Against HIV/AIDS in Secondary Schools in Cameroon North West

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This study was designed to investigate the Impact of Art Education on Awareness Campaign Against HIV/AIDS in secondary schools in CAMEROON NORTH WEST. Four research questions were formulated as thus: What is the level of awareness on HIV/AIDS among secondary school students in CAMEROON south? What is the knowledge level of secondary school students in CAMEROON south L.G.A. on the signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS? How do teenagers perceive the preventive strategies of HIV/AIDS in our society? And what role does Art Education play in creating awareness on HIV/AIDS in secondary schools in CAMEROON south L.G.A? Researcher developed questionnaire was the instrument used to gather information from senior secondary school students in CAMEROON south. Questionnaire was administered to 200 senior students randomly selected in four secondary school in CAMEROON south. 100 questionnaire for male students and the other 100 for female students. Mean scores were used to answer the four research questions. Some of the findings showed that: Students are of the opinion that Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome is a blood transmitted disease, a person can get HIV infection through risky sexual behaviour, HIV is disease that attacks the immune system and there is no cure or vaccine against AIDS. It is possible for a healthy looking teenager to have HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS can affect anybody irrespective of age, Secondary school students in CAMEROON south have not got relevant information on HIV/AIDS, students agreed that weight loss, diarrhea, dry cough and drenching night sweat are all symptoms of HIV/AIDS, the most effective measure of preventing HIV/AIDS is through awareness, the teaching of sex education in Schools will not help to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, Information on HIV/AIDS cannot be obtained through art works, Posters, stickers and T-shirt are used to create awareness on HIV/AIDS, Abstinence is the surest way of preventing HIV/AIDS and finally Art Education plays a vital role in campaign against HIV/AIDS and Findings were discussed, conclusion reached and recommendation made for future scholars.




The acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first recognized as a disease in the early 1980s. With about five years, it became clear that a new epidemic of unprecedented proportions was spreading throughout the world. Destruction of the immune system, the main characteristics of the disease, caused patients to die from a range of opportunistic infections. Some people were reluctant to accept the evidence that HIV was the cause of AIDS, both in the West and in the East Africa (Duesbery 1988).  Many political leaders also chose to ignore or deny the importance of the expanding epidemic until after widespread transmission of HIV had already occurred.


One feature of HIV /AIDS that is highly unusual for an infectious disease is its consistently long incubation period combined with a high rate of disease developed. The disease is unique in that it regularly causes lethal disease after a prolonged induction period that lasts several years. As a result, the vast majority of HIV infected people are clinically asymptomatic and do not know they are infected unless they undergo clinical testing.


UNAIDS(2007),states that although currently incurable and fatal, AIDS is preventable. You can avoid it by making careful choices about sexual activity and drug use. Participate in an HIV education program. Until we have a vaccine and a cure, education awareness campaign and individual responsibility will be the cornerstone of any program to control this devastating epidemic.


Oguntoyinbo and Salami (2007) recount that no health issue has commanded as much public attention in recent years as Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This fatal, incurable disease is the leading cause of death in the world today. People between 15 – 25 years are at the highest risk of acquiring HIV infection. Recent public education campaigns have focused primarily on HIV infection because it is considered the number one health priority in our schools today. Despite the intense efforts of scholars world wide, HIV infection continues to spread. HIV /AIDS is not very clear to many people; it is a language that is very common to people in the medical and health field. The abbreviation HIV /AIDS represents a long well connected scientific statement as follows:


HIV – Human Immuno-Deficiency virus


AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.


Douglas(1995) defines AIDS as “the most serious of the various deficiency diseases. It infects more than one type of immune system cell and may damage, directly the brain, lung and muscle tissue”.

Thomas et al (1994) obverses that, “HIV infection is a chronic disease that progressively damages the body’s immune system, otherwise making a healthy person susceptible to a variety of infection and disorders”. Under normal conditions when a virus or other disease causing agent enters the body, it is destroyed by the body’s immune system, but HIV attacks and disarms the immune system itself so that it can no longer respond adequately to treatment.


Scientific encyclopedia (1995) defines immunity as thus:

The word immunity is derived from Latin ‘immunis’. The term originally referred to the ability of the body to resist invasion by pathogenic organisms, but has now been expanded to include specific reactions to antigens (Ags). Immunity is derived from the immune system which when functioning properly, protects the organisms from infection. Failures of the immune system produce some of the most challenging and serious disease.

HIV /AIDS is a virus that severely reduces the immunity of the body to the slightest infection. When this occurs, the individual has no body soldiers to wage an attack or resist the infection and therefore, the infected person finally dies because no amount of drug can stop the infection from winning the war (killing the person). This could have been one of the reasons why the disease has been described as embracing and difficult to identify easily without its critical stage as the case of other common or deadly diseases like malaria, cholera, hypertension, Rabies etc.

Experts have also observed that the signs or symptoms are similar to some of the common or deadly diseases. The degradation of the immunity is very gradual and slow process. When the destruction takes place, the body becomes weak less resistant to any disease attack thus, any person whose immune system has been destroyed risks death. The body needs immunity to fight against this germ or use immunity to help drug to work against any infection. It is not the virus itself that kills, but destroys the immune system thereby rendering the body weak to resist any attack.


Joint United Nations programme on HIV /AIDS (UNAIDS) 2003, states that the human immuno deficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immuno deficiency syndrome (AIDS) principally attacks CD4 T-cells a vital part of the human immune system. As a result, the body’s ability to resist opportunistic viral, bacteria, fungal, protozoal and other infection is greatly weakened.

Infection with HIV does not necessarily mean that a person has AIDS. Some people who have HIV infection may not develop any of the clinical illnesses that define the full-shown disease of AIDS for ten years or more. Physicians preferred to use the term AIDS for cases where a person has reached the final, life-threatening stage of HIV infection.


The origin of AIDS and HIV has puzzled scientists ever since the illness first come to light in the early 1980s. for over 20 years, it has been the subject of fierce debate and the cause of countless arguments, with everything from a promiscuous flight attendant to a suspect. Vaccine programme being blamed. So what is the truth? Just where did AIDS come from?


The first recognized cases of AIDS occurred in the USA in the early 1980s. A number of gay men in New York and San Francisco suddenly began to develop rare opportunistic infection and cancers that seemed stubbornly resistant to any treatment. At this time, AIDS did not yet have a name, but it quickly became obvious that all the men were suffering from a common syndrome. The discovery of HIV, the human immuno deficiency virus that causes AIDS was made soon after.

HIV is a lentivirus and like all viruses of this type, it attacks the immune system. Lentiviruses are in turn part of a larger group of viruses known as retroviruses. The name “lentivirus” literally means “slow virus” because they take such a long time to produce any adverse effects in the body. They have been found in a number of different animals, including cats, sheep, horses and cattle. However, the most interesting lentivirus in terms of the investigation into the origins of HIV is the Simian immuno deficiency virus (SIV) that affects monkeys.


The researchers (lead by Paul Sharp of Nottingham University and Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama) made the discovery during the course of a 10 year long study into the origin of the virus. They claimed that this sample proved that chimpanzees were the source of HIV-1, and that the virus had at some point crossed from chimps to humans through a hunter. When a viral transfer between animals and humans takes place, it is known as Zoonosis. In this scenario, SIV was transferred to humans as a result of chimps being killed and eaten or their blood getting into cuts or wounds on the hunter. Normally the hunters body would have fought off SIV, but on a few occasions it adapted itself within its new human host and become HIV-1.Farooq(2004) also shows how retroviral transfer from primates to hunters is still occurring even today. Discoveries such as this have lead to calls for an outright ban on bush meat hunting to prevent simian virus being passed to humans. Inoculation by medical officers also helped in the transfer of viral particles from one person to another through using of one single syringe.


Some of the factors that may have contributed to the sudden spread of HIV to the world is both national and international travel, blood transfusion and drug use.One third of the world’s population is between 10-24 years of age, and four out of five young people live in developing countries, a figure which is expected to increase to 87% by the year 2020 (Friedman, 1993; Ainsworth and Over 1997). They also state that, in many countries the majority of young people are sexually experienced by the age of 20 and premarital sex is common among 15-19 year-olds.


World Health Organization (1995) , reports that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV are most common among young people aged 15-24 and it has been estimated that half of all HIV infection worldwide have occurred among people aged under 25 years. In some developing countries, up to 60% of all new HIV infections occur among 15-24 years old. Yet, vulnerability to STIs including HIV is systematically patterned so as to render some young people more likely to become infected than others.

Rivers and Aggleton, (1998) are of the opinion that gender, socio-economic status, sexuality and age are important factors structuring such vulnerability. Unequal power relations between women and men, for example, may render young women especially to coerced or unwanted sex and can also influence the capacity of young women to influence when, where and how sexual relations occur.


Thomas et al (1994), went further to enumerate on the mode of transmission. HIV is transmitted by blood and blood products semen, vaginal and cervical secretions. It cannot live in air, water, eating utensils or telephones. There are three main routes for HIV transmission.

Particular kinds of sexual contact, primarily unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse and to a lesser degree, oral-genital contact.

Direct exposure to infected blood

From an HIV infected woman to her fetus during pregnancy or childbirth or possible to her infant during breast feeding.

The unprotected sexual activities in the first category above carry the greatest risks. HIV can be transmitted through minute fears in the fragile lining of the vagina, cervix, penis, anus and mouth and through direct affection of cells in some of these areas.

Direct blood stream contact with the blood of an infected person is the second major route of HIV transmission. Needles used to inject drugs are routinely contaminated by the blood of the user, so if needles are shared, small amount of one persons blood can be directly injected into another persons bloodstream.

They also state that HIV can also be transmitted from needles or blades used acupuncture, tottoing, ritual scarring and piercing of the earlobes, nose, lip and nipple. Furthermore, the mother-to-child transmission route called vertical transmission result in the infection of about 25-30% of the babies born to HIV-infected mothers. Most of these infection, seen to occur during pregnancy but a few may happened during childbirth or breast feeding.

Similarly, other modes of transmission-Trace amounts of HIV have been found in the saliva and tears of some infected people though researchers believe that these fluids do not carry enough virus to infect another person. Contact with the urine or faeces of infected person may carry some risks but contact with an infected persons sweat is believed to hold no risk. Moreover the symptoms of HIV /AIDS includes:

 Persistent swollen glands

Lumps, rashes, sores or other growth on or under the skin or on the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, anus or nasal passages.

Persistent yeast infections.

Unexplained weight loss

Fever and drenching night sweats.

Dry cough and shortness of breath

Persistent diarrhea.

Easy bruising and or unexplained bleeding

Profound fatigue sometimes accompanied by light headedness or dizziness.

Memory loss.

Tremors, seizures and unstable balance

Change in vision, hearing, taste or smell

Difficulty swallowing

Mood changes or other psychiatric symptoms

Persistent or recurrent pain.

They went further to state that because of a weakened immune system, people with HIV infection are highly susceptible to infections and other disorders both common and uncommon. The most common one seen in people with HIV include pneumonia and tuberculosis, kaposis sarcoma, Aids dementia, cryptosporidiosis and invasive cervical cancer. Most of these conditions are rare among people with healthy immune systems and are not contagious. However tuberculosis is spread through the air and may pose a risk for both non-infected people and other HIV-infected person who has an active case of tuberculosis.

Bouvet et al (2002), put in that method of preventing HIV infection can be divided into those that are currently available such as education and those that are not yet available but being pursued through research such as vaccines. Voluntary testing and counselling programs are extremely important to reduce sexual transmission.  A major limitation in most countries is the reluctance of most people to get tested and thus learn their status. Such reluctance may be particular evident where infected individuals have few or no opportunities for treatment with antirectroviral drug (ARV). In such situations, concerns about stigma and death from the infection may provide disincentives for the individual to learn his or her status.

They also suggest that condoms are highly effective when used properly, Abstinence provides a guarantee against sexual infection. ARV drugs can be used to block transmission of HIV by accidental needlestick infection, such as those that might occur among medical personnel treating AIDS patients. The same three-drug combinations such as AZT, lamivudine (3TC), and NVP, that are use for treatment of AIDS are highly effective if given within hours after the presumed exposure. The same intervention can be used for victims of sexual violence.


Packer (1998) recounts “While no medical treatment cures AIDS, in the relatively short time since the disease was first recognized new methods to treat the disease have developed rapidly. Health-care professionals focus on three areas of therapy for people living with HIV infection or AIDS: Antiretroviral therapy using drugs that suppress HIV replication, medications and other treatments that fight the opportunistic infections and cancer that commonly accompany HIV infection, and support mechanisms that help people deal with the emotional repercussions as well as the practical considerations of living with a disabling potentially fatal disease.

He also state that antiretroviral drug can bring a person with AIDS back to good health and keep a person with HIV healthy. A person who takes ARVs can live a much longer and healthier life than someone who does not. But they do not cure a person of HIV. ARVs must be taken continuously and correctly for the whole lifetime of a person with HIV. Even if a person is taken ARVS and has a very low viral load, he /she can still infect other people with HIV.

The epidemic of HIV has been steadily spreading for the past three decades and effects every country in the world. Each year, more people die and the number of people living with HIV countries to rise, in spite of the fact that we have developed many proven HIV prevention methods. One of the key means of HIV prevention is creating awareness (education). Teaching people about HIV; what it is, what it does and how people can protect themselves.

Over half of the world’s population is now under 25 years old and they are both the age group most threatened by AIDS and the best hope of combating the epidemic. Awareness can help to fight HIV and it must focus on young people. In the United States about 40,000 new HIV infections occur each year. More than 30% of these infections occur in women and 60% occur in ethnic minorities. In 2001 more than 8000,000 U.S residents were infected with HIV and more than 3000,000 people were living with full-brown AIDS. In Canada about 4,200 new HIV infections occur each year. Nearly 25 percent of these infections occur in women. In 2002 about 55,000 Canadians were living with HIV infection and about 18,000 people were living with full-blown AIDS.

Federal Ministry of Health (2002) narrates that the HIV/AIDs epidemic is still a serious problem in Cameroon. Over 4 million Cameroons, the world’s third-highest number of people are infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDs) and several thousands, have already died of diseases due to AIDS. In 2005, it was estimated that one in every 23 Cameroonn is infected with HIV, while over 300,000 infections and 200,000 deaths occurred. By 2010, rarely 4 million will be living with the HIV infection and about 3 million would have died (2005 National HIV seroprevalence sentinel survey). This is bound to have a major social and economic impact on the Cameroonn society.

The single greatest factor influencing sexual behaviour in all societies is age. Even where social, religious and cultural values curtail the levels of experimenting with sex before marriage. Vulnerability among teens is great. A substantial portion of teens in the region appears to be at risk. Research has shown that this is because when people are young they are very likely to have more than one sexual partner in a fairly short period of time and may well have sexual relationships with two people at the same time (Johnson, Mercer, Evens, 2001).


The tension between maintaining traditional values and modernizing societies through improved educational, health and communication opportunities is a serious source of social and political conflict. Anabela et al (2003) are of the opinion that raising awareness about HIV/AIDS is one of the ways of reducing the prevalent of HIV in our society.


The fight against HIV /AIDS is a collective effort by the international organizations, governments, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Individuals. The Bush administration is committed to provide leadership in global efforts to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS. In fiscal year 2006, the United States committed approximately $3.3 billion to the PEPFAR (presidents emergency plan for AIDS relief) president Bush has requested approximately $4 billion for fiscal year 2007, keeping the emergency plan on track to meet the presidents five year $15 billion commitment.


In 2001, Ranbaxy Cameroon, a subsidiary of Ranbaxy India, India’s largest pharmaceutical company, signed an agreement with the Cameroonn Government to supply ARVs manufactured at its plant in Lagos.


In 2004, Archy pharmaceuticals, a Cameroonn owned pharmaceutical company also set up a new plant manufacturing ARVs, in Lagos. This should increase the availability of ARVs to people in Cameroon and other West African countries.  The WHO (World Health Organization) recently estimated that only N4 ($0.03) is spent per person on HIV /AIDS prevention, treatment and care by Cameroonn government to be effective, the UN estimates that N260 –  N390 ($2-3) needs to be spent per person. Many NGOs and international organizations provide funding for HIV /AIDS in Cameroon. The main donors are PEPFAR, the Global fund and the world Bank. PEPFAR funds will focus on abstinence and fidelity education, mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) and blood safety. Existing sites will be scaled up and new ones created. An example of a PEPFAR funded project is the Global HIV /AIDS initiative Cameroon (GHAIN). This is a five-year project aiming to provide ARTs and Care to HIV positive people and to prevent 800,000 new infections by 2009.


The Global fund is providing $28 million over two years to expand government Art, prevention and MTCT programmes to reach 20,000 people. Nearly $9 million of this will be given to the Cameroonn government to fund the expansion of ART.


Schools also have a very important role to play in supporting HIV prevention among our adolescents. Youths and adolescents constitute a large proportion of the Cameroonn population and reaching these groups through school based programs like Art Education might be effective interventions. According to the respondents in Cameroon, school attendance by children 14 years and under was 76%. Children who are in schools especially secondary schools have every opportunity to be educated on HIV /AIDS through visuals like posters, because education is known to be an important sub-sector within both social and economic sub-sectors. Any threat to this sector will obviously have far-reaching consequences on the general well being of the society (ESUT Educational research team, 2003). Some other educationalist like Bessong,Fidelis,Koko and Otibu (2006) State:


Educating young people about AIDS is very vital for a number of reasons. Young people as a group are Universally regarded as an important target audience for all educational activities aimed at promoting healthy attitudes and behaviour or at changing unhealthy attitudes and behavioural practices, thus forestalling their unwanted consequences.

Since it has become the responsibility of the government and the public at large to inculcate healthy attitudes in the youths, including positive behaviours that discourage HIV /AIDS. It becomes imperative that the government should create awareness on HIV/AIDS through visuals like posters. This is what informs the need to create awareness on HIV /AIDS through Art Education in the secondary schools in CAMEROON south Local Government area of Anambra State.


Ontisha is the most populated town in Anambra State, standing approximately 1.5 million people according to the Cameroon population statistics (2000). It is a business district with shops, stores, petrol stations, administrative offices, banks post offices, schools car parks /garages etc. CAMEROON is made up of Onithsa North and CAMEROON South. My area of study which is CAMEROON south is made up of three settlements which includes Odakpu, fegge and woliwo layout. With a market that is generally accepted as the largest and finest in the whole country, the town is always an emporium of trading activities for people from diverse areas of the country and the world at large and this is one of the reasons why secondary school students especially those in the senior class should be educated on the scourge of HIV /AIDS through visuals like posters because some of these rich business men and women influence teenagers with their money just to lure them into premarital sex thereby infecting them with HIV.


 1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS reports that since the epidemic began, an estimated 10,129 adolescents and young adults between ages 13-24 with AIDS have died and the proportion diagnosed with AIDS has also increased. Likewise, the proportion of adolescents and young adults with an AIDS diagnosis has increased from 3.9 percent in 1989 to 4.2 percent in 2004. In other words, adolescents are at a greater risk of being infected.


In CAMEROON, a great number of teenagers are becoming sexually active at an earlier age than in the past due to the influence of the environment(Amalu,2004). It is popularly believed that all young people are risk-taking pleasure seekers who live only for the present. Most teenagers are exposed to the virus through risky sexual intercourse. By the rate the virus is fast spreading, if care is not taken, it could wipe off the next generation (Grunselt,1997). Therefore Education has a vital role to play in the well being of teenagers. It not only offers them a chance for their future but also provides developmental stimuli.


How are we going to create awareness to our teenagers on the dangers of immoral behaviour, what role does Art Education play in the fight against HIV /AIDS and finally which media is appropriate to create awareness on HIV to teenager in secondary schools in CAMEROON NORTH WEST.



The purpose of this study is to find out the impact of Art Education on Awareness Campaign against HIV /AIDS in secondary schools in CAMEROON NORTH WEST. Specifically the study seek to find out the:

Level of awareness on HIV /AIDS among our secondary school students in CAMEROON

Students knowledge of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Preventive strategies of HIV /AIDS in our society.

Role of Art Education on creating awareness on HIV /AIDS



The study provides answers to the following research questions:


What is the level of awareness on HIV /AIDS among secondary schools students in CAMEROON south?

What is the knowledge level of secondary school students in CAMEROON south L.G.A on the signs and symptoms of HIV /AIDS?

How do teenagers perceive the preventive strategies of HIV /AIDS in our society?

What role does Art Education play in creating awareness on HIV /AIDS in secondary schools in CAMEROON south L.G.A?

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