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Volume 180: debated on Monday 12 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what are his Department's criteria for increasing awareness of the AIDS problem for people under 21 years of age;(2) how much was spent increasing the awareness of the AIDS problem among people under 21 years of age, in the first six months of the current year;

(3) if he has any plans to initiate a campaign to counteract the idea of AIDS invulnerability among people under 21 years of age.

The AIDS public education campaign advocates prudence in personal behaviour, while providing young people with the information they need to protect themselves from infection. Government policy is that teaching about HIV and AIDS should be set in the wider context of health and sex education, and should encourage pupils to have due regard for moral considerations and the values of family life. The science order of the national curriculum requires that pupils should understand the need to have a responsible attitude to sexual behaviour.The Government have promoted HIV/AIDS awareness in schools through a range of measures, including the designation of HIV and AIDS as a priority issue, the provision of guidance for teachers and a video package for use in schools. In addition, many colleges of further education include HIV/AIDS information in vocational and induction courses. A sum of £7 million has been provided this year to enable local education authorities to provide training for teachers and employ health education co-ordinators, for whom AIDS and HIV is a focal issue.Young people aged 16 to 24 are a primary target audience for the Health Education Authority's HIV/AIDS public education programme, which aims to equip young people with the knowledge and understanding to avoid behaviour likely to place them at risk of infection, and to encourage them to act responsibly. The authority has also produced a pack for secondary school teachers, mass media advertising aimed at young people, a campaign aimed at young holiday travellers, and cinema advertising designed to reach young people with messages about personal responsibility. A further TV and cinema campaign is planned for later this year, which will address the issue of personal risk and behaviour. The HEA was allocated £10 million for AIDS work this year.The Department of Health has asked health authorities to develop community-based HIV prevention initiatives, using earmarked AIDS allocations. It is expected that up to £20 million will be spent in the current year and this will include initiatives aimed at young people.National drug prevention campaigns aimed at young people have emphasised the danger of spreading HIV through sharing injecting equipment. About £2 million a year has been spent on this work.