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Serbia and Montenegro

Youth Partner

Name: Ilija Bilic
Age: 20
Nationality: Serbian
Affiliated Organization:

Safe Pulse of Youth (NGO SPY), Y-PEER


Ilija Bilic is a student of molecular biology and physiology at the University of Belgrade.

His motivation to help his peers suffering from HIV/AIDS has brought him to do advanced training in peer-education. His interests are in reproductive health issues and working as a peer educator and trainer for Y-PEER, where he has been the Focal Point Alternate since October, 2003. He has also been working on UNICEF’s Right to Know project.

Ilija has a strong belief that young people can make a difference in prevention education and eradicating discrimination against PLWHA. He is interested in using multimedia and drama techniques in education.

Ilija enjoys traveling, reading books, music (especially Bjork) and he loves dogs.


UNFPA in Serbia and Montenegro

Situated in Southeastern Europe, the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro is a federation with a population of around 10.6 million people. Prior to the break up of Yugoslavia, the country enjoyed a relatively well-developed, universal system of health care, social services and education. However, the impoverishment of the country in the last decade— as well as social and political turmoil— has decreased the resources available for health and education. 13.5% of residents of Serbia and 16% of Montenegrians are between 15 and 24 years old. Recent research on adolescent reproductive and sexual health indicates a low awareness among young people on sexually transmitted infections and of contraceptives, a decrease in average age at first intercourse, and a high incidence of abortions, about half of which are illegal or unsafe. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of children born outside of marriage. Almost half of these children are born to teenage mothers.

Although HIV prevalence in Serbia and Montenegro is relatively low in comparison with other Eastern European countries, Serbia and Montenegro ranks the second highest in Southeastern Europe. Research shows that only about 20% of young people between ages 20-24 have adequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and young people account for 40% of HIV incidence.

Refugee and the Roma community youth are most vulnerable. In 2002, Serbia had over 63,000 refugee youth aged 15-24, whereas Montenegro had about a thousand refugees aged 14-18. The Roma community is both poor and marginalized, lacks access to water and sanitation, education, and healthcare. This marginalized status increases chances of engaging in risk behavior, thus contributing to a rise in STIs, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.

With UNFPA support, social marketing of condoms was initiated in Albania, Romania and the UN Administered Province of Kosovo, as well as in Georgia and Armenia. Based on lessons learned from these social marketing experiences, UNFPA, in partnership with Population Services International (PSI) and UNAIDS, launched a regional condom project to change attitudes and behaviours of young people in Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. The What’s Your Excuse? campaign uses mass media to promote condom use among young people.

A growing number of NGOs and institutions working in the area of peer education in Serbia and Montenegro are developing programmes that are focused not only on providing accurate information, but also on changing young people's attitudes and behaviors. The State Union has a relatively developed network of NGOs that work in the field of sexual and reproductive health education, HIV and STI prevention, and prevention of substance abuse. Several organizations use teen telephone lines and internet to give advice to young people in emergencies or to answer their questions about sexual health and contraception.
While most organizations are based in Belgrade, there are a few organizations in Novi Sad, Nis, Podgorica, Pozega, Arilje, Valjevao, Subotica, etc. Serbia and Montenegro 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 NGOs.

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