the VOA Special English Education Report.
thousand young people from around the world attended the International AIDS
Conference last week in Mexico City. They were there to represent the five
million young people living with H.I.V. and the more than fifteen million who
have lost parents to AIDS.
Andrew Francis from Jamaica says young people must be active at every level of
AIDS policy-making. If not, he says, there will continue to be programs and
policies that do not connect with the realities of young people.
Mary Awour Odhiambo of Kenya became infected four years ago after having
unprotected sex. She says the drugs that she and others take to control H.I.V.
give them the appearance of being healthy. But people on antiretroviral therapy
can still pass the virus to others. So her advice to young people?
AWOUR ODHIAMBO: "Never trust anybody, not even themselves. Even if you
have to go like for sex, at least they should use a condom, because in this
world you can't tell who has the virus now."
delegates talked about difficulties facing AIDS education and prevention
efforts. Twenty-year-old Himakstu Piplani is from India.
PIPLANI: "Things back home are not very good. First and foremost the sex
education program has been banned by twelve Indian states. So that's not a good
thing because we are not getting adequate knowledge and information anymore.
Secondly, the legal framework in India is not very good when it comes to AIDS
and young people. We have laws that criminalize homosexuality. We have laws
that criminalize drug use."
young people at the AIDS conference included teenage peer educators. Conference
organizers invited seventeen-year-old Vanessa John Mlawi to speak about her
work in Tanzania.
JOHN MLAWI: "I am a peer educator in school and my role as a peer educator
is I provide accurate information to my other students. And it is accepted and
I think that by going on and doing this will make a really big change."
delegate, Alischa Ross of Australia, lost her mother and stepfather to AIDS
when she was a teenager. She later started a nonprofit group called YEAH, Youth
Empowering Against AIDS.
ROSS: "When you think of the fact that the majority of people in the world
affected by H.I.V. are young means the majority of people with the experience
are young. So that makes perfect sense that we are at the center of responding
to this pandemic."
Ross saw hope in the large presence of young people at the latest International
AIDS conference. At the first one she attended eight years ago in South Africa,
she says, there were just thirty delegates under the age of thirty.
And that's the VOA Special English
Education Report by Nancy Steinbach, with reporting from Mexico by VOA's
Rosanne Skirble. For more on the conference, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.