28/11/2008

Youth action on AIDS in Peru

WAD 2008: Across Peru, young people are uniting against HIV and AIDS. They recently held their first ever national meeting on the issue, ‘Young people – actors for change responding to HIV and AIDS’. It’s vital to raise awareness here, because it’s mostly young people who become infected. Big Deal got the lowdown from young HIV and AIDS educators, youth workers and activists, supported by CAFOD.Read more
“Young people can do something to help improve the situation of HIV and AIDS. We don’t have to wait around for someone else to do it for us,” said Luís Guevara (21), a member of a youth organisation ‘Amongst Friends of Villa El Salvador’, based in one of Peruvian capital Lima’s largest shanty towns. "At the meeting, I learned how to put together a campaign to lobby for our rights. This will strengthen the whole community and make our voice heard. We've decided to do work on a campaign to improve the youth services at our local hospital. Young people often say that the government isn’t doing anything to help us but we have to take action too!”

Young people from 15 youth groups in 7 cities across Peru joined forces at the meeting. Luis was joined by Gerardo (23) from ‘Youth Link’; young people living with HIV and AIDS. They raise awareness and provide care and support. “Young people should be participating but often they don’t get the support from the community or from local institutions. At the meeting we shared experiences, and realised that we aren’t the only youth organisation working on HIV and AIDS – which was great. If we work together, our message is stronger!”

Henry Paiva (23) is also from Youth Link. “We have decided to work with other youth groups in Lima to improve services at our local hospital. We’ll interview young people to find out what services they are missing. At the moment young people don’t feel like they can go to a hospital to find out about HIV and AIDS and other sexual diseases. For example the opening times aren’t good for young people who are studying during the day. We need to make them more youth friendly”.

Yesennia Atahua (20) is part of ‘Youth Leaders of San Juan de Lurigancho’ in Lima. “I learnt that HIV and AIDS isn’t just a problem that affects young people here in Lima but in the whole country,” she said.

Taboos in Peru mean that talking about HIV and AIDS and sex education is really hard. CAFOD works with the Institute for Education and Health (IES) which supports young people to raise awareness, develop community initiatives, and help make public policy on the issue.

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