Young people of Moldova explore new approaches in HIV prevention and reduction of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV
Being the most active part of the population and the main target of the epidemic, young people couldn’t stay aside and remain indifferent to the worsening situation with HIV in the Republic
The number of newly-diagnosed HIV infections in the Republic of Moldova has increased fourfold since 2001. With an estimated 420 cases per 100 000 people, the overall adult prevalence in Moldova is the highest among the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In the northern part of the Republic the epidemic is especially serious: 8 of 1,000 people are found to be living with HIV in Balti, the largest town in this area.
Thus, early in 2011, the regional Youth Resource Center Dacia, based in the town of Soroca, that borders the Balti region, initiated a project for strengthening capacities of youth and student organizations and especially those in the Balti region – Youth for Right to Life, Youth Friendly Centre ATIS, Union for HIV/AIDS prevention and Harm Reduction in Moldova, Accommodation and social adaptation center “Return”, “Union of Students in Balti” NGO, Center “Plus” – for HIV prevention among vulnerable population groups and prevention of discrimination and stigmatization of people living with or affected by HIV.
The project was designed to provide a new impetus to HIV prevention among adolescents and young people by young people themselves. Therefore, the emphasis was made on mobilization of partnerships among youth and student organizations of the Republic. The project was implemented by the Centre Dacia in close cooperation with the National Commission of the Republic of Moldova for UNESCO and the Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Moldova and was supported by the UNESCO Office in Moscow.
To begin with, in March Dacia convened a round table discussion on planning, coordination, and capacity building for youth and students organizations on HIV prevention and stigma reduction among adolescents and young people including the most at risk populations. The event was attended by a total of 46 specialists including stakeholders from the Minister of Youth and Sports, National Coordination Council on HIV, AIDS and TB, Soros Moldovan Foundation, and District Council of Soroca as well as representatives of 34 non-governmental organizations and youth centers from Balti, Cahul, Chisinau, Donduseni, Edinet, Falesti, Ribnita, and Soroca.
Following the round table, a training workshop was organized for workers of youth and student organizations on HIV prevention and stigma and discrimination reduction. “This kind of events are important to bring HIV into centre of discussions at local and community levels”, said Elena Moraru, the workshop participant from Public Association Union for HIV/AIDS prevention and Harm Reduction in Moldova from Balti. Elena pointed out that the training gave her “an appropriate tool to share accurate information about HIV and AIDS with young people”.
The project concluding event – National Forum of Youth and Student Organizations – was held in Chisinau on November 18-19, 2011 under the patronage and with the joint financial support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Moldova and UNESCO Moscow Office. Over 70 representatives of youth organizations, including 45 representatives from regions of the Republic gathered at the event. The Forum highlighted the importance of youth engagement in national response to HIV epidemic and provided a platform for constructive dialogue between relevant authorities, including the National Coordination Council on HIV/STI and TB Prevention and Control Programmes, youth and student organizations, youth information and youth friendly health centers. The participants enthusiastically embraced the possibility to discuss and share their experiences. The atmosphere of the youth zest and collaboration inspired the Mr. Ion Chebanu, Minister of Youth and Sports, who promised to provide the Ministry support to the other projects in the field of prevention education and suggested to conduct the Forum on an annual basis. At the end of the Forum participants adopted a resolution.
The Youth Resource Center Dacia collected, documented and presented to the Forum participants good practices in HIV prevention implemented in the Republic of Moldova over the past few years. Printed as a booklet, the collection of good practices is also available at UNESCO Moscow website.
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