UNICEF NACO to hold National Youth Peer Convention from May 28

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Bangalore, May 26 (UNI) The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and National Aids Control Organization (NACO) will conduct the country's first National Youth Peer Convention here from May 28 The first of its kind Convention was expected to attract over 400 peer educators from across the country and aims to offer a common platform to share experiences and lessons learnt and answer some critical questions on peer education. The three day convention also aimed to strengthen the networks in 25 districts as part of the UN children's agency's DISHA programme.

The Convention marks a significant step ahead in UNICEF's UNITED FOR CHILDREN UNITED AGAINST AIDS campaign which calls upon everyone to join together to put the care and protection of children, adolescents and young people at the centre of the HIV/AIDS agenda, according to a UNICEF release here UNICEF's Chief of HIV/AIDS in India Vidya Ganesh said that India has over 2.2 to 3 million people living with HIV/AIDS and over 35 per cent of AIDS cases reported were below 25 years of age.

''India finds its youth at the Heart of the HIV/AIDS epidemic today with 40-50 per cent of new infections being between 15 and 29 years old'' she added. The current HIV/AIDS programmes were reaching only 15 per cent of young people while less than one quarter of young people have accurate information on how to protect themselves from HIV.

''This is a matter of concern when we know that the first step towards any kind of behaviour change is enhancing knowledge and skills to practice the behaviour'' she added.

The three-day convention was being organised in partnership with other youth organizations and hopes to not only create awareness but also a platform for the Voices of the Youth against HIV and AIDS at the district and State level. The Convention also aims to strengthen partnerships wherein youth and adults fight together against the epidemic. The event would offer peer educators and red ribbon networks an opportunity to showcase the work done by them at the community level. It would feature sessions on role of youth in reproductive health, HIV/AIDS along with workshops in areas of enhancing skills in leadership, networking, team building, community mobilization, using different mediums for HIV communication-- puppetry, masks, folk art etc along with a live market place for showcasing some of the work of the young people designed by young people themselves.

UNI VK MSP SKB1903

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