Malaysia’s first one-stop HIV prevention youth centre launched in conjunction with World AIDS Day 2004
PENDANG, Kedah, 26 November 2004 — The PROSTAR Youth Centre, a one-stop center for HIV prevention was officially launched today by Her Highness Dato’ Seri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz binti Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Haji Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, Chair of the Sultanah Bahiyah Foundation in conjunction with World AIDS Day 2004.
First of its kind
The first of its kind in Malaysia, the Centre is an active youth-focused program that aims to involve young people in activities that will not only educate them about HIV, but also give them a sense of pride, responsibility and commitment to remain safe from HIV infection as well as help educate their peers about HIV/AIDS. More than 50,000 children and women in Pendang are expected to benefit from the program which is jointly funded by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
“Providing young people with ‘safe spaces’ to meet and socialize with peers; creating a protective and non-judgmental environment where they can receive information and counseling; and establishing “connectedness” between adults and adolescents are some of the ways we can help young people build the skills and confidence that they need to deal with the pains of growing up, including the pressures that might put them at risk of HIV infection”, said Gaye Phillips, UNICEF Malaysia Representative during the Launch of the Centre this morning.
Youth participation and empowerment
The Centre which is run by youth who have undergone training activities under the PROSTAR program, will meet the needs of both in-school and out-of-school youth through facilities that include HIV/AIDS counseling and education, anonymous HIV screening, cyber café, and a mini gymnasium.
Using a model of partnership, youth participation and empowerment, the program is designed to reduce the incidence of drug use and HIV/AIDS among youths in Kedah. According to Ministry of Health statistics for December 2003, Kedah has 582 HIV cases, of which 72% are amongst intravenous drug users. The same statistics indicate that approximately 1 in every 3 persons infected with HIV in Kedah is below the age of 29.
“UNICEF is confident that the PROSTAR Youth Centre in Pendang will have a positive outcome for young Malaysian men and women. We hope that the success of this pilot project will encourage more of such programs for youth in other states and help reverse the present trend in HIV infections in the country”, added Phillips.
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26 November 2004:
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