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JIS News

The HIV/STI Prevention and Control Unit of the St. Catherine Health Department, has launched a schools’ quiz competition, designed to heighten students’ awareness of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
The competition, which involves some 80 students from 12 primary schools in the parish, got underway at the Faith Temple Church Hall in Portmore onJune 21, with Independence City Primary, Ascot Primary, and Bridgeport Primary participating in the first of four elimination matches.
Ascot Primary won the contest with 47 points and will go on to the grand finals to be held Monday, June 27 at Cecil’s Restaurant in Linstead.
“I’m so excited to know that we’ve come out on top. Last year we entered and we did not do so well and we came back with a vengeance and I’m very pleased and proud to know that we did well,” said Jassett Fishley, grade six teacher at Ascot Primary.
She attributed the school’s success to hard work, determination and the extra hour spent by the students after school to prepare for the quiz.
“The objectives have been met. The children are now more aware of AIDS and HIV and the consequences,” she told JIS News.
Winsome Keane-Dawes, Coordinator of the HIV/STIs Prevention and Control programme at the health department, explained that competition was organized because of the increased incidence of sexual activity among pre-teens in primary schools, as revealed in a 2002 United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) study.
“We realized that the primary school children are very involved sexually from our interaction with them and also from the survey done by UNICEF,” she said, noting that objective of the competition was to heighten the students’ awareness and knowledge about HIV/STIs and their reproductive health.
She said the competition targeted grade six students, who would be entering high schools in September, “where the challenges are many.””There, they are going to face peer pressure. They will be dealing with the challenges of their own growth and development and so it would be good for them to be familiar with some of the things they are going to face,” she noted.
Guidance Counsellor at the Bridgeport Primary School, Kadian Graham, indicated that the students involved in the competition were now more aware of HIV and other STIs, and have been passing on the information learnt to their schoolmates.
She noted that teachers often dealt with questions on sexual issues from students because of “their exposure to sexual activity through the media.” “We find that they have a lot of questions and are very interested when it comes to certain topics,” she added.