Sex education is almost non-existent in Poland but a group of medical students, with support from MTV Staying Alive, are on the case.
Getting young people in Poland to talk about HIV and STIs is difficult. These subjects are taboo in our country. We’re working hard to get people to open their minds, which were closed for so long during Poland’s era of Communism.
For the most part, Polish youth still aren’t comfortable talking about intimate issues with their parents. Parents tend to fob the issue off on schools. But sex education in Poland is almost non-existent. There are only very basic classes called “Preparation for Family Life”. Practical issues associated with sexual and reproductive health are barely covered. So young people often look for information on the internet and talk with inexperienced friends, who often give wrong or distorted advice.
That’s where we come in. As medical students, we’re well versed in the problems associated with HIV/AIDS but we wanted to share our knowledge. We set up the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association to fill the gap in knowledge about HIV and STIs left by schools and parents.
With help from the MTV Staying Alive Foundation we run peer education sessions: we believe the best way to fight HIV/AIDS is prevention, and the best mode of prevention is education.
We target young students living in cities across the whole of Poland and run different educational events. We organise safe-sex-themed parties on trams (a form of public transport popular with students in the city) called ‘Street Car Named Desire’. These parties are really popular and can attract up to 2,000 young students per event. Young people respond so well to these peer education events because they can talk openly about safe sex, STIs, and HIV in an informal atmosphere without the fear of being judged.
We’re really proud of teaching young people about STIs and HIV. But they’re not the only ones who are learning. We’re constantly learning valuable lessons about how to build relationships and inspire our peers to make better choices about sex.