The National – Thursday, December 16, 2010
By ELIZABETH MIAE
A NEW document for out- of-school youths has been launched to address their needs in understanding and learning more about prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sex education.
The document, “National HIV Prevention & Sexuality Education For Out of School Young People” was developed by the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) with support from United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
The objective of this “Young People’s Booklet” is to prevent HIV and other STIs, unplanned pregnancies and gender based violence among those aged between 15 and 24 who are out of school.
It provides vital information for youths on sexual and reproductive heath and HIV prevention, helps them think abut their values, attitudes, risks and intentions related to sexuality and those of their peers.
It also describes the opportunity to learn life skills to prevent HIV and access health services and have better relationships and allows them to have fun learning in whatever environment they are in.
The document is the first of its kind for PNG and is in line with the current national HIV prevention strategies including the new national HIV/AIDS strategy plan 2011-15.
It will be used as a national curriculum by stakeholders who conduct programmes for out-of-school youths.
“With a national HIV prevalence rate of 0.9% in PNG and young people 15-24 representing about 20% of the population, we find nearly 8,000 young people infected with HIV in that age group,” Unicef Representative Dr Bertrand Desmoulins said at yesterday’s launching.
“We need to pay urgent attention to address the prevention needs and reduce risky behaviours of these young people and to urgently address the gender imbalance occurring in the young female population,” he said.
He said countries that had worked with young people to reduce risk in sexual and drug-taking behaviours had been rewarded by lowered levels of HIV infection.
Desmoulins pointed out that no single prevention strategy had proved optimal in all circumstances and the HIV prevention for young people needed to be based on the opinions and contributions of young people.
He said prevention programmes depended on the sustainability and quality of behaviour change programmes.
“When youths are able to access appropriate knowledge, skills and means, they have shown a remarkable propensity to adopt safer behaviour even more so then their elders,” he added.
Unicef would be supporting the initial rollout of the training programme by the National HIV training unit throughout the country starting next year.
Desmoulins said that in order to achieve real changes, it required a collaborative effort from all sectors concerned.