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UNAIDS Releases Book about HIV for Children

It is important for children to learn about and understand every pivotal moment they might encounter during their development. For many U.S. children, this includes going to the bathroom, learning proper manners and going through the strife of puberty. Unfortunately, many children across the globe are also fated to encounter HIV as a major factor in their lives.

Thankfully, UNAIDS and the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNTWO) Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty have released an innovative book about HIV for children. The book aims to educate African schoolchildren and eliminate the stigma surrounding HIV in the hopes that community understanding will pave the way for better treatment for those affected.

Titled “The Bravest Boy I Know,” the story surrounds a girl called Kayla and an HIV-positive boy named Kendi. The story shows the carefree and happy lifestyle of Kendi, who is determined to overcome his affliction with the praise of Kayla who refers to him as “the bravest boy I know.”

Accompanied by beautiful illustrations, the book inspires children with HIV to persist with positive attitudes toward a fulfilling life despite what may seem as an end-all diagnosis. It will also teach countless African youths to accept and help their peers in need rather than scare away or even ostracize them due to misinformed beliefs.

“The Bravest Boy I Know” will be distributed to African schools through ST-EP’s Small Libraries project, aimed at children 5 years and older as well as families and wider communities. The book provides facts on HIV such as what it means, how it is contracted and how to deal with it and goes further to break down social barriers about the disease that prevent proper treatment and testing.

The fact that the book is aimed at small children emphasizes the effect social stigma has on the disease, which has been treated as a plague since its emergence. The outbreak of HIV in the U.S. is a case that illustrates the vast effects of misinformation even in a relatively educated society where people affected with HIV were once treated as lepers. In areas riddled with HIV, the stigma and lack of understanding are even more severe today.

The book is intentionally lighthearted, bringing its readers into positive acceptance through comfortable understanding. It is a resource for parents, caregivers, community members and even the children it may or may not affect.

In the wake of world crises and the modern media that can bring them to our living rooms, “The Bravest Boy I Know” is astoundingly innovative and may even be useful in U.S. schools. Education is the means to break cycles of poverty, disease and inequality for future generations, and children hold the future in their little book-reading hands.

– Edward Heinrich

Sources: UNAIDS 1, UNAIDS 2, YouTube
Photo: UNAIDS 3