Preventing HIV Infection

Preventing HIV in Young People

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What Should Be Our Guiding Principles?

Adopt a culturally sensitive approach that builds on positive values. Value systems and beliefs are established based on traditional, religious and societal determinants usually introduced by parents, guardians and community elders and shape a young person’s attitudes and behaviour. However, in many societies young people and their gatekeepers struggle to balance traditional cultures with divergent and dynamic youth cultures that, more often than not, challenge traditional norms. Programmes that fail to understand the socio-cultural concerns and fears of both young people and significant gate-keepers encounter resistance. To be effective in positively influencing and changing behaviour patterns, parents and other gatekeepers need to be involved and their attitudes and concerns addressed.

The need for a holistic and life cycle approach to preventing HIV in young people. Young people need accurate and appropriate information, skills and knowhow on all aspects of sexual and reproductive health, gender relationships and their sexual development so as to be empowered to make the right choices for themselves. UNFPA should ensure that HIV prevention is an integral part of its broader holistic approach to addressing sexual and reproductive health and rights among young people including those that support responsible and healthy lifestyles, prevent STIs, teenage pregnancy and promote gender equity and equality.

Involve young people and their organizations for effective programmes that are appropriate, relevant and meaningful to them. Experience shows that HIV/AIDS programmes that respect young people’s rights to participate and involve them, while being sensitive to their cultures and circumstances are more likely to succeed. The active and meaningful participation of young people – including those who are HIV positive - in the planning, development, decision making, implementation and evaluation of preventive activities that aim to address their needs and that shape their lives should underpin all UNFPA actions addressing young people.


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