|© UNICEF video|
|The Children’s Federation of Georgia’s youth radio station broadcasts information on HIV/AIDS prevention to the nation’s young people.|
By Maya Kurtsikidze
Each December, UNICEF’s International Children’s Day of Broadcasting involves young people worldwide in media programming and production, giving them a chance to express their opinions on major issues and develop new skills. Here is one in a series of stories about youth media.
TBILISI, Georgia, 14 November 2006 – Despite a large global increase in HIV cases over the past decade, Georgia still has a low HIV prevalence rate.
The AIDS pandemic has not taken hold here as it has in neighbouring countries like Russia, Ukraine and others in the region. At a mere 0.1 per cent, HIV prevalence in Georgia has not yet approached the critical tripwire of 1 per cent adult infection.
Looking at the levels of drug use and other statistics, however, the potential for an explosion exists. Fortunately, Georgia is in a position to prepare itself. This task is being taken up by the youth radio station operated by the Federation of Children of Georgia, which broadcasts information on AIDS prevention to the nation’s most susceptible population group – the young.
Focus on prevention and education
The focus in Georgia is on HIV/AIDS prevention and education, and UNICEF is working with partners to develop peer-to-peer training modules and education programmes. The peer-to-peer approach has a high impact since young people tend to confide in each other about sensitive issues.
|© UNICEF video|
|Peer-to-peer education is a major step in preventing the rapid spread of HIV among adolescents and young adults in Georgia.|
Since 2005, nearly 2,000 young people have received consultation services from centres opened by UNICEF and its partners. About 175 peer educators have reached over 17,000 young people with information on HIV and AIDS.
“It is inexpensive and culturally acceptable,” says staff member Nino Tseretseli of the local non-governmental organization Tanadgoma, one of the implementing agencies. “Better to spend some funds now on prevention. If we don’t spend it now, we will have to spend much more money later on treatment and support of the people who will be infected.”
‘Talking to youth on their own level’
Media campaigns on youth radio and TV, along with poster campaigns, are getting the message across that the peer-to-peer approach helps young people avoid taking risks.
“It is not like preaching,” says UNICEF Representative in Georgia Giovanna Barberis. “It is talking to youth on their own level.”
HIV prevalence does not develop slowly. It grows exponentially but silently, gathering momentum until it cannot be stopped. Georgia is developing quickly but its medical system is still fragile. Peer-to-peer education is a major step in preventing the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS before it gains a foothold in the community.