Female peer educators trained on HIV/AIDS

DJIBOUTI: Female peer educators trained on HIV/AIDS

DJIBOUTI, 19 Jul 2004 (PLUSNEWS) - The Djiboutian ministry for the promotion of women is conducting training programmes on HIV/AIDS for female peer-educators, saying it is mainly targeting young women who are most vulnerable to infection.

Amina Abdi, the ministry's HIV programme manager, told PlusNews on Monday, at the end of a three-day seminar to train 20 educators, that her ministry's HIV/AIDS programme would support behavioural change among young Djiboutian women.

"Young women aged between 16 and 27 are the most vulnerable. They are sexually active, often without work, they have low levels of education, and a low knowledge of HIV/AIDS. All these factors lead them to have occasional sexual relationships with different partners," Amina said.

The peer-educators were selected from all over the capital, Djiboutiville, and are expected to use the skills learnt during training to educate their peers on the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

A March 2002 survey showed that the national HIV-prevalence rate in Djibouti was 2.9 percent of the population of 600,000 - a figure which the country's health authorities say is low by African standards, but represents a generalised epidemic. The survey also showed that 90 percent of those infected lived in Djiboutiville, and that women were more affected than men.

It also showed that less than half the population knew that condom use reduced the risk of transmission. Less than 1 percent rejected two false suggestions that mosquitoes and kissing could transmit HIV, or knew that somebody who did not show obvious signs of infection could still pass on the virus.

The training was funded under a US $12 million grant from the World Bank to fight HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections, malaria, and tuberculosis, mainly through behavioural change and other multisectoral strategies. As part of these strategies, key ministries have their own anti-HIV/AIDS programmes coordinated by an executive secretariat and an inter-ministerial committee.

In June, the communication and culture ministry announced plans to involve journalists more actively in fighting the disease. Speaking at a seminar for journalists in Djiboutiville, Minister for Communication and Culture Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama said the seminar was the first step in his ministry's national programme to combat HIV/AIDS.


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