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.