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Youth Partner

Name: Jessica Said
Age: 20
Nationality: Lebanese
Affiliated Organization:


Jessica Said is a senior student at the University of Balamand, Faculty of Health Sciences, and is majoring in Health Promotion. Her major focuses on preventing the spread of disease through awareness.

Jessica did a residency at the National AIDS Control Program, which is a joint program between the Ministry of Public Health and the WHO. There she developed a book about issues related to STIs and HIV/AIDS to be distributed to club animators for several public schools. She is also a chief scout for 30 children aged between 8 and 12 years old, which involves the organization of entertaining activities for children aiming to educate them on scout principles.


Name: Mona Hassouna
Age: 24
Nationality: Lebanese
Affiliated Organization: Youth Advocacy Programme

Mona studied audio-visual journalism at the Lebanese University, Faculty of Communication and Documentation. Currently, she is working as a youth trainer and program manager in Development for People and Nature Association, DPNA, a Lebanese NGO targeting mainly youth issues in Lebanon. In addition, she has done volunteer social work, focusing on human rights issues, especially those of children and youth because they are marginalized in Lebanon. She has undergone training on HIV prevention, which she identifies as an important step in her social work as it taught her about the extent and danger of HIV among young people and that awareness campaigns are not enough to prevent HIV. This is the reason she joined GYP Lebanon because she feels that through advocating among decision makers for HIV prevention a difference can be made.


UNFPA in Lebanon

Youth in Lebanon have been immensely affected by dramatic changes in Lebanese society following a civil war and occupation, and subsequent reconstruction, the effects of globalization, and migration. This has led to a rapid shift in norms and values of adolescents towards a more liberal orientation, within a fairly conservative society. Studies on youth health, and in particular reproductive health, reveal that Lebanese youth are exposed to unsafe practices, which have such consequences as unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and abortion. Currently, reproductive health-related services do not exist to meet the special needs of youth. In the absence of a national strategy for information provision and counselling on reproductive and sexual health, health and environment concepts were introduced in 2001 in the basic and secondary public school texts along with capacity-building initiatives for teachers. Despite many defects, this curriculum probably represents the sole source of health information and education for students. In Lebanon, as in other countries in the region, youth are at risk of HIV infection for reasons related to absence of reliable and adequate information , economic reasons , taboos related to the issue of sexuality, and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS, especially men having sex with men, commercial sex workers, and intravenous drug users.

A knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices (KABP) study done on a national level by the National AIDS Control Program (NAP) in 1996 revealed that the average age at the first sexual relationship among youth was 15 years old and 76.1% did not use condoms. A 1997 WHO study showed similar results: 63.9% of the youth interviewed had sexual relationships, 33.4% had multiple partners, 50% had casual sex, and 29% paid money to have sex. The NAP has established strategies to reach young people and high-risk groups, mainly focusing on awareness raising, capacity building and ensuring availability of preventive services in order to facilitate the adoption of safe behavior.

UNFPA Lebanon decided to seek the collaboration of local NGOs with experience working with youth. In addition, UNFPA has opted to collaborate with NAP with regard to the overall guidance, coordination, and technical support so as to optimize the work being done, to avoid duplication and to build on the successful experiences of NAP. In this regard, UNFPA is directing its assistance in support for HIV prevention and awareness creation to the youth population.

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