HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Program

The HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Program at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) is a student-based program committed to ensuring good health in communities of mining districts in Ghana. To do so, the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the university utilizes the airwaves for public outreach, education, and raising awareness about ways to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS. What started as a radio broadcast about a life-threatening disease has turned into an expansive outreach program that informs the community about public hygiene, reduces the stigmatization of infected individuals, and provides education and demonstrations on ways in which infection can be prevented.
 
The program at the University of Mines and Technology carries out its goals of raising HIV/AIDS awareness by setting up open air broadcasts on the university’s FM station called Dynamite FM. Experts and students make presentations about a variety of topics including environmental issues of mining, HIV and public hygiene. Because the public has access to this radio station, both university students and community members alike can engage in the conversation about health issues in Ghana. After presentations are made, listeners are permitted to phone into the radio station to ask questions or make comments on the material discussed. By integrating the studies of university students with the experiences of citizens from the mining districts, interaction amongst all community members is achieved.

A second aspect of the program involves direct interaction between community members, as students and staff visit the mining districts to develop field work projects. Students administer questionnaires on pertinent issues on HIV/AIDS prevention, make informative video presentations and distribute condoms in highly infected communities.

Even though there are only 30 students involved with the program, their message, thanks to public radio and outreach to local community, educates up to 9000 people living in the mining community of Tarkwa, Ghana. The HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Program has made a lasting impact on citizens living in the mining district. In 2007, the HIV infection rate was over 4%. This statistic dropped to 3.6% in 2008 and then to 2.5% in 2009. It has been estimated that over 50% of the reduction in HIV infection in Tarkwa is due to the efforts of UMaT’s prevention and education program.