Prevention among adolescents
Primary prevention among adolescents and young people
Just over two-thirds (67.5%) of the population of Burkina Faso is under 24, including 32% which is under 10. For this group, access to useful information about services related to sexual reproductive health and HIV has always been difficult.
Young people themselves are at the heart of the transmission of the disease and the reduction of its spread because they account for 50% of new sexually transmitted infections. Young girls are particularly vulnerable.
UNICEF supported the creation of the Young African Network Against HIV/AIDS (now known as Réseau Africain Jeunesse Santé et Développement - RAJS) in order to harmonize and streamline prevention strategies likely to have an impact on the percentage of young people infected by the disease.
The Network currently brings together 280 member organizations –mainly young people’s associations organized in clubs whose members sensitize their peers on HIV/AIDS prevention. With the support of UNICEF, the number of clubs set up by RAJS-BF had increased to 1,989 at the end of 2005 with an average of 40 members per club. The total number of young people registered in these clubs had increased to 79,560, of which 38,189 (48%) were girls and 41,371 (52%) were boys.
UNICEF’s support in 2005 has made it possible for RAJS-BF to back the activities of almost 200 clubs and to train 120 new peer educators (60 boys and 60 girls) in life skills. UNICEF also supported the production of a manual on life skills designed to help peer educators increase their knowledge. The manual addresses all issues related to adolescence – even beyond HIV/AIDS.
Awareness raising drives for voluntary HIV/AIDS screening have been regularly conducted within and outside of the school system. In 2005, UNICEF supported the campaign “One girl, one boy” to promote the participation of girls in club activities.
Through the network of young people backed by UNICEF, the youth of Burkina Faso are given the opportunity to be advocates at the national and international levels for their own priorities, especially in terms of the access to health services and to information related to sexual reproductive health.
In 2006 UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS programme supported capacity-building of youth network members in 10 provinces. This was done through the training of 300 peer educators, who were instructed in life skills and communication for behavioral change.
UNICEF also supports the production of sensitization materials, and funds radio broadcasts in local languages to reach young people who are not in school. With the aim of covering as wide geographic area as possible, UNICEF has donated 120 bicycles to associations and peer educators, to make it easy for them to travel from village to village. In 2006 UNICEF also helped to set up a new provincial coordination structure for RAJS in the province of Gnagna.