Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

23 August 2011

Cameroon: Close to 400 Peer Educators on the Field for HIV/AIDS Free Screening

The HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a major cause of concern in society.

Thirty years since the discovery of the HIV/AIDS virus, 60 million persons have been contaminated and 25 million deaths registered. Statistics show that 33 million people in the world are HIV positive with 26 million are in Africa.

In Cameroon, five out of 100 persons are infected by the HIV virus and youths aged between 15 to 24 years represent 50 percent of new infections. Only 34 percent of young boys have knowledge of HIV as against 27 percent of young girls. Also, 60 percent of infected persons are women. The revelation was made on August 23 in the Yaounde conference Centre during the launching of the ninth edition of the "AIDS-free Holidays" campaign. The event took place in the presence of members of government, representatives of international organisations, youths and guests. Launched in 2003 at the initiative of the First Lady of Cameroon the "AIDS-free Holidays" campaign aims at stepping up the prevention and treatment of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) HIV and AIDS among others. The 2011 edition is taking place on the theme "Young girl, do your HIV screening".

It is aimed at encouraging young girls to know their HIV status and building the capacities of youths on the modes of transmission and means of protection from AIDS. Throughout the campaign, about 400 peer educators will comb the streets of cites and villages of Cameroon to disseminate educational messages. During the eighth edition, 405 peer educators were mobilised, more than 105,000 educative talks held, 584,000 sensitisation materials distributed and 26,622 people screened. This year, the activities of the peer educator will be mainly organising educative talks, demonstrations on the proper use of condoms, free voluntary screening and orientation on the psychological and medical care of persons diagnosed of HIV/AIDS. This year's edition is also an opportunity to promote the use of the female condom which is simple to use and gives women the choice as it can be inserted eight hours before sexual intercourse.

It is expected that 500,000 youths will be sensitised on STIs and HIV/AIDS and 40,000 youths and more young girls screened. The follow-up and evaluation will be done through supervisory missions and reports of field activities.

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