The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
the impact of conflict, poverty, unemployment
and the breakdown of societal and cultural norms have
resulted in an increase in risk behaviour among young
people. Over the past decade traditional structures around
sex and marriage have been breaking down, increasing
sexual activity outside of marriage. However, in many
cases, taboos surrounding the discussion of sexual matters
A recent UNFPA-sponsored situation analysis found
that The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s youth often possess incomplete
knowledge about STI and HIV/AIDS and lack the life
skills necessary to avoid infection. While young people
are, for the most part, aware of condoms as a prevention
measure for STI/HIV, they fail to use them on a regular
basis. Young people need to be educated about healthy
behavior and attitudes and encouraged to use prevention
measures. Existing health and social services are not
youth-friendly and young people report that they do
not talk to their parents or teachers about sexual
health and related issues. As a result, young people obtain information about prevention of HIV, other STIs and pregnancy largely from their peer group and/or older siblings. The response analysis found that media information
campaigns have targeted youth with HIV/AIDS information,
as has the education system. However, these campaigns
are not reaching all young people and in particular
may not reach vulnerable youth outside the education
The National Policy on HIV/AIDS
therefore contains elements
that move beyond providing youth with basic knowledge
and strives to strengthen the skills of young people
in life skills and negotiation of safe health behavior.
It further recognizes the need for young people to
contribute through their active involvement in future
STI/HIV prevention programs. These programs will be
more effective if they move beyond information dissemination
and encourage group norms for safe and healthy behavior.
Good innovative programmes involving young people do
exist, although their implementation is often uncoordinated
and unsustainable. Youth friendly services are sporadic,
particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health.
Likewise, peer education and life skills education programmes
do exist but are not implemented in a systematic manner.
Some work has been done by the Ministry of Education
(MoE) and other organizations on the development of formal
curricula in schools to include education on substance
abuse, sex education and condom promotion.
Macedonia is one of the Y-Peer countries. With a web site at its core, Y-Peer
is a UNFPA-led project to encourage safer sexual behaviour among adolescents
using peer educators and local NGO.