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Youth Partner

Name: Lurys “Lulu” Marin Lascano
Age: 19
Nationality: Panamanian
Affiliated Organization:

APLAFA (Asociacion Panameña para el Planeamiento de la Familia, Panamanian Family Planning Association)

Lurys “Lulu” Marin Lascano has been working for APLAFA since she was ten years old, an organization associated with IPPF/ RHO that promotes SRH and works to eradicate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. Lurys is a staff coordinator for The Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. The Youth Network is an organization that is coordinated by young people ages 18-24. The network's main agenda is to promote sexual and reproductive rights for young people nation-wide.

Lurys loves to read and play the guitar. Her favorite colors are blue and violet. She likes to visit places with big libraries and wide open green spaces for camping. Lurys describes herself as honest, intelligent, romantic, persuasive, and sensible.


Name: Adrian Hedman
Age: 24
Nationality: Panamanian
Affiliated Organization: Youth Kuna Movement

Adrian Hedman is a member of the Youth Kuna Movement, an organization that works with and for the Kuna indigenous people in rural areas. The indigenous Kuna people are the population segment most affected by HIV/AIDS in Panama. Adrian is involved in activities related to raising awareness about HIV prevention for young Kuna people, especially on issues of gender, sexuality and intellectual property.

Adrian has four pets and likes to watch movies. He describes himself as hard-working, talkative, and calm. Adrian’s dedication to HIV prevention is deeply personal for him because he has lost family and friends to the disease.


UNFPA in Panama

Panama has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the Latin American and Caribbean region and a continually rising rate of new infections. With an estimated 15,000- 25,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in 2003, Panama has an overall prevalence rate of 1.5%. 524 young persons under the age 24 have died from AIDS, and 8.3% of registered AIDS cases correspond to young people between 15-24. UNAIDS, in 2001, estimated the HIV prevalence of 15-24 year old males between 1.35 and 2.4% and between 0.9 and 1.6% among females.

Almost two thirds of HIV infections reported in Panama are the result of heterosexual sex. This means that efforts need to be made in providing accurate information, education, and services on SRH and rights, with an emphasis on the prevention of HIV, to all young people around the country, in order to save the lives of thousands of young Panamanians.

The Panamanian Government is committed to fighting this epidemic. Toward this end several legal and political actions have resulted in a framework for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Panama has also achieved the incorporation of several ministries and national institutions in its fight. An ambitious collaboration between the Panamanian Family Planning Association (APLAFA), the Ministry of Health, and nine high schools, assisted by UNFPA, has changed the lives of many adolescents in five marginal semi-urban neighborhoods.

Through a combination of education, information and health service initiatives, participants have been empowered to change their thinking about their current lives and future aspirations. As part of the four-year effort, the Ministry of Health created five youth-friendly clinics. Staff were trained in providing SRH services to adolescents. The resources built by the initiative guarantee project sustainability and institutionalization. The extensive project coverage was possible due to the creation of an Inter-Sectoral and Community Adolescent Network formed by more than 15 private, NGO, and Government institutions, which has reached more than 46,000 adolescents in the district of David. The project also resulted in the creation of a youth network for the promotion of SRH and rights of young people in the region, which now contains around 28 active member organizations.

Sources: AIDS Epidemic Update, 2001.

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