World AIDS Day (1 December): Young people get the message

© UNESCO/LENEPWHAPeete, 23 years old, male student, Lesotho - Sometimes when I think back on my life for the past ten years, I realise that I did not have enough knowledge on the pandemic to take care of myself. My young friends remind me that life should be enjoyed, and yet I worry that unless they are protected from contracting HIV they will soon have the virus like me and may not enjoy life as they do now. They deserve to be happy and live life with no worries. I believe that they should be adequately prepared now at a very early age so that they will grow into young adults competent enough to take care of themselves and protect others from HIV.

World AIDS Day 2010 brings news of progress. A report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that rates of new HIV infections are falling or stabilizing in some countries, most notably among young people aged 15–24.

Among young people in 15 of the countries most severely affected by the epidemic, the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 25% thanks to safer behaviours and practices, including delayed sexual debut, partner reduction and increased condom use. 

Education is an important factor in this development, indicates Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO in her World AIDS Day message. HIV infection rates are halved among those who finish primary school, while targeted HIV and AIDS prevention education builds knowledge and positive attitudes among young people.  

However, there is still a long way to go before the progress is universal or equal. In many countries, women face their greatest risk of infection before the age of 25. 

World AIDS Day events around the world include parades, theatre, art exhibitions conferences and awareness-raising campaigns. In UNESCO Headquarters, an exhibition of photos and texts shows students and teachers speaking out about HIV in Africa. A consultation on the needs of young people living with HIV will follow on 7-9 December.

Related Links  

UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic  

Exhibition: Students and teachers speak out about HIV in Africa  

Global roundup of events on World AIDS Day  

HIV and AIDS and Early Childhood  

Consultation: Addressing the Needs of Young People Living with HIV 



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