Relevant SDGs

This story meets one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations.
This story meets one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations.
This story meets one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations.

The BiblioSIDA programme ensures access to sexual health care information and education in Cuba

HIV/AIDS has been one of the most destructive global pandemics in human history, affecting the lives of millions of people worldwide. Cuba is no exception. In 2018, UNAIDS estimated that the HIV prevalence rate among Cuban residents aged 15 to 49 was 0.4%. This number has been stable since 2014, increasing slightly from 0.1% in 2005.

For over 15 years, BiblioSIDA, an information service created by the Cuban National Medical Library, has ensured access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information for young Cubans. This programme supports the Cuban government’s fight against AIDS, educating young people and adolescents throughout the community via the library system.

The programme started with 52 Havana City librarians working in collaboration with the National Centre for Sexual Education. The librarians were trained as health promoters to consult with library visitors, and to provide printed information such as newsletters, scientific papers, and medical guides, available at reference counters throughout the library network.

During the programme’s second year, the library increased its impact through an outreach program, conducting promotion and prevention activities in schools, residential buildings, family doctors’ offices, and other community spaces. "The program is very important because it supports the work of the family doctor. When I was a family doctor, I did these activities with the population, with the young people, they left very happy and eager to continue learning about these health issues", explained a retired family doctor.

The National Medical Library is in the El Vedado neighbourhood, one of the most populated and crowded communities of the capital, where over 30 schools are located. In the last fifteen years, 2,550 students, an average of 170 students each year, have attended and benefited from the BiblioSIDA programme. Since its inception, programme offerings have expanded to include conferences and presentations with subject experts, film-debates, didactic games, contests and calls for artwork. Medical students from the nearby Latin American School of Medicine have supported the initiative by carrying out programme activities in other Cuban communities and in their own home countries.

The goals of the BiblioSIDA programme have remained consistent – to help prevent incidents of STDs and HIV/AIDS in young people and to encourage informed and healthy behaviours through sexual and reproductive health education. "This program is important because I'm very careless and sometimes I don't protect myself. Now I know I have to take care of myself," revealed a teenaged student from El Vedado’s Rubén Martínez Villena Secondary School. Another student affirmed his classmate’s position, stating, "This initiative should be [provided] at the national level, because all young people, all teenagers need someone to guide them when they start having sex.”

Contributor: Cuban Association of Librarians, ASCUBI / Asociación Cubana de Bibliotecarios
Published Date: 20 January 2020