UNICEF Project Uses Children, Youth as Peer Educators To Increase HIV/AIDS Awareness in India
About 400 children from eight Indian states gathered Wednesday at a workshop to discuss their experiences as peer educators in a joint UNICEF-National AIDS Control Organization pilot project that aims to increase HIV awareness among children and youth, the Times of India reports. The groups launched the project in 400 villages based on their HIV prevalence in 22 rural districts and three urban districts to determine the effectiveness of children and youth raising awareness about HIV/AIDS among their peers.
As part of the program, peer educators established Red Ribbon Clubs to provide support for children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The workshop -- held at the Ecumenical Christian Centre in Bangalore, India -- looked at four ways to help the children in their role as peer educators: how to increase their knowledge about HIV/AIDS, how to effectively communicate with other children, the difficulties in teaching peers about HIV/AIDS and how to overcome difficulties.
Vidya Ganesh, UNICEF director of HIV/AIDS programs in India, said the "idea" of the program is "intervention by youth, as young people may prefer to talk to and listen to other youngsters on HIV/AIDS problems." Ganesh said that if the project is effective, it will be expanded nationwide. According to the Times, UNICEF and India's government plan to involve 70 million children and youth in the program, depending on the results of the pilot phase. UNICEF also has called on government officials, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders to become more involved in the project (Times of India, 5/29).