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01.12.2009 Health

YMCA to use peer educators to fight HIV prevalence

By GNA
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YMCA to use peer educators to fight HIV prevalence

December 01, 2009
Accra , Dec. 1, GNA - Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), a Christian youth organisation in Ghana , has committed its peer educator model to bring down the high HIV prevalence rate in the Eastern Region.

The HIV prevalence rate is steadily increasing in the region, with the last official figures putting it at 4.2 per cent in comparison to the national official figure of 1.9 per cent.

"Of concern is that 90 per cent of new infections are in the 15 - 49 age bracket. This is the productive age meaning the country's labour force is at risk of dying in their prime time," Prosper K Hoeyi, National General Secretary of YMCA said in a statement issued in Accra , on Monday.

He said research had revealed that the high prevalence rate in the area was due to the rural nature of the communities and lack of education on HIV and AIDS, coupled with traditional beliefs.

The region is also bordered by four regions whilst there is migration of the people to Côte d'Ivoire in search of greener pastures.

" Côte d'Ivoire has the highest HIV prevalence rate in West Africa and we think this may be having a major impact on the increase of infection rates in the Eastern Region," he said.

In order to deal with the threat, YMCA has instituted the peer educator model under its national Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) programme, which is now in its fourth year and being funded by the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

Under this programme, students are trained and supervised for a number of years to become peer educators.

In Koforidua alone, 700 peer educators visit and interact with the youth and educate them about HIV/AIDS. More importantly the peer educators disabuse the minds of their friends, classmates and family members about the stereotypes, and myths about the disease.

Through peer education, beneficiaries are beginning to move away from old habits such as unprotected sex, sharing of blades and razors.

Families which have benefited from the programme no longer shy away from discussing sex with their adolescent children.

"Our peer educators in the Eastern and other regions are bringing positive feedback and are hopeful that as the programme takes root, YMCA will be complementing government efforts in no small way to fight HIV/AIDS," the statement added.

The statement encouraged the public to avail themselves of the peer education programme dotted around the country and get informed about AIDS.

GNA

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