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Preventing HIV Infection
HIV/AIDS Update 2002
Strategy for Prevention
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Conclusion: Challenges
Strategy for Prevention

The current situation
Why focus on prevention?
Strategy for prevention
Core areas of support
Young people, Condom programming, Pregnant women
Enabling environment
Mainstreaming gender concerns, Population and development concerns, Advocacy and partnerships, Capacity building

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Core areas of support

Focusing prevention efforts in these three core areas would not only reduce HIV infections but also reduce STIs and help young people in particular to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

1. Young people

Educating young people like these schoolgirls in Sierra Leone is the first step in preventing HIV/AIDS and promoting lifelong reproductive health. UNFPA supports peer education projects and youth-friendly information and services.

Half of all new infections are among young people. Most of them do not know they carry the virus. Many millions more know nothing or too little about HIV to protect themselves against it.

UNFPA supports programmes that promote healthy adolescent development and, among sexually active young people, safer and responsible sexual behaviour. Access to culturally sensitive and youth-friendly reproductive health information and services is a priority for protection against STIs, including HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.

  • About one third of the people currently living with HIV/AIDS are aged 15 to 24.

  • Half of all 15-year-olds alive today in the most-affected countries will eventually die of the disease, even if infection rates drop in the next few years. If infection rates remain high, more than two thirds of these young people will die of AIDS.

  • Early marriage, sexual violence and the search by adult men for HIV-free sexual partners greatly increase the risk of infection among adolescent girls and young women in many communities.

UNFPA is working to create communication messages that result in behaviour change.

The Fund also supports the creation of skillsbuilding opportunities to help equip young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to deal with life challenges and make responsible and appropriate choices and decisions about their reproductive health.

To maximize results, the Fund also advocates the involvement of young people in decisionmaking about prevention activities.

  • Young people are “partners for health” in Namibia in a project that aims to create regional youth offices, peer education programmes and multi-purpose youth resource centres offering youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Gender concerns and HIV prevention are high priorities in the project, which also aims to mobilize community support and supply condoms to sexually active young adults.

  • In China, secondary school teachers and administrators in 15 counties participated in advocacy seminars designed to raise awareness about the need to educate young people about HIV/AIDS prevention and other reproductive health issues.

  • Development of an interactive computer game for ages 11 to 14 is underway in Estonia. The role-playing game challenges young people to make responsible decisions about sexual behaviour. Once tested, the game will be distributed to all schools in Estonia and made available online to students and teachers.

  • Students at 17 universities in India are taking advantage of online and telephone counselling for HIV/AIDS and other sexual and reproductive health issues. Counsellors have been trained to provide telephone and online AIDS counselling.

Information about sexuality does not encourage promiscuity. Many studies and long experience show that the opposite is true. Young people who are armed with information and skills, and who have access to counselling and services, are more likely than their uninformed peers to abstain from sex.

They are more responsible in their sexual behaviour, and they are less likely to fall victim to STIs, including HIV, or unwanted pregnancy.

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