As HIV/AIDS grips the developing world, the pandemic is debilitating not only health, but social, economic and cultural systems. Symptoms are strongly felt throughout the education sector, affecting the capacity to supply schooling services, demand on the current formal system, and quality of education.
Equality of opportunity has moved further beyond reach as girls' opportunities are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. In a world without HIV/AIDS, girls are more likely to be withdrawn from school than their brothers, and in a world with HIV/AIDS these challenges are only exacerbated. In countries with the highest prevalence of HIV the focus needs to be on increasing opportunities for girls' to get into school and stay there to learn.
Education is one of our key defences against the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS. A critical response to HIV/AIDS is to ensure girls' access to free and compulsory primary education of good quality. And HIV/AIDS must be considered part of quality education. Well-implemented skills-based HIV/AIDS education has been shown to help young people develop knowledge, attitudes and life skills to protect themselves against HIV.