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El Salvador

Youth Partner

Name: Romeo Ernesto Chavarria Marroquin
Age: 20
Nationality: Salvadorian
Affiliated Organization:

Youth Network for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS in El Salvador, Volunteer - Education for Life/Ministry of Education

Romeo Chavarria is a medical student at the University of El Salvador. He is working as a volunteer on a project for the Ministry of Education called “Education for Life.” The project works in public schools with adolescents to reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection, and early pregnancy. The project uses a peer-to-peer education methodology and focuses on issues such as Adolescence, Sexuality, and SRH with an emphasis on HIV prevention.

During 2003 Romeo participated in a UNFPA Country Office initiative that formed a Youth Network for the prevention of HIV in El Salvador. The initiative was coordinated with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education where younger leaders from these Ministries were sensitized about the HIV situation in El Salvador. Their work was developed in many schools with an unconventional approach such as video forums and participative theater.

In his free time, Romeo loves listening to music, going to the movies and going out with friends. Romeo believes that young people like himself can make the difference in averting the HIV/AIDS crisis.


UNFPA in El Salvador

Since 1984, the year in which the Ministry of Public Health of El Salvador first registered AIDS cases, the number has increased annually, mostly in the urban areas among the 15 - 24 age group and among men. The estimates for HIV prevalence among 15-24 year old males lie between 0.5 and 1.04% and between 0.23 and 0.48 for females.

To address the epidemic’s impact, the Ministry of Public Health currently executes a National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS prevention, with actions oriented towards adolescents.

UNFPA supports the Ministry of Education on the Integral Sexuality Education Programme in the Non-Formal Sector in 41 schools of the country, with adolescents aged 14 -19 years, with a peer-to-peer method that includes content on HIV prevention.

Likewise, UNFPA supports the Ministry of Public Health in the provision of health and educational services on Sexual and Reproductive Health to adolescents (10-19 years), in 29 health units around the country, also with the peer-to-peer method, and appropriate educational material with contents on HIV prevention and the correct use of condoms.

Due to the positive results of the peer-to-peer method used for education on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 20 adolescent leaders (15-19 age group), integrated in a group for HIV prevention, are being trained. There is also work being done with parents to train them to provide support to their sons and daughters. For the execution of these activities, health units serve as operation centers in which the adolescent leaders carry out their activities with their schoolmates, allowing them to interact closely with health establishments and to access available services.

In this process, adolescents, men and women are acquiring new knowledge, sharing their anxieties, identifying the risks of HIV infections, developing prevention methods, changing their behavior patterns and developing healthy lifestyles and values for individual and social HIV prevention. In addition, they help each other and are sensitized to the issues of people living with HIV and AIDS.
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