Preventing infection among young people
Impact on children and young people
Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. In 2010, it is estimated that over 95,000 young people aged 15 to 19 are living with HIV in Mozambique.
Girls and young women are more vulnerable to infection because they often lack the power to refuse unsafe sex, to choose their partners, to generally influence sexual behaviour and are biologically more vulnerable to infection.
On the other hand, boys may be unable to ignore peer pressure to start having sex at an early age and to have multiple partners and frequent sexual encounters.
Knowledge and behaviour change
Knowing how HIV is spread is crucial for young people to protect themselves against the disease. The level of knowledge on ways to prevent infection has increased in recent years, but this has not yet resulted in significant changes in behaviour.
In order to bridge this gap between knowledge and behavioural change, more focused strategies bringing together social mobilisation, health education and communication programmes are needed to encourage people to adopt healthy behaviours.
Behaviour change should be complemented by a supportive social environment which reinforces attitudes and practices, particularly among women and young people.
Reaching people with information in remote areas remains a challenge in Mozambique, where over half the population is illiterate and more than 55 per cent of households do not own a radio.
In this context, interpersonal communication, community radio, drama and music are among the most effective forms of communication for development.
What is being done
In support of the Government and civil society, UNICEF will continue to scale up prevention activities for children and young people across the country.
Between 2010 and 2011, UNICEF will focus its HIV prevention efforts on in-school children between 10 and 14 years of age, complementing the HIV prevention activities for other age groups carried out by the government and other development partners in the country.
At the same time, UNICEF will continue to expand and strengthen community-based activities, using a variety of community communication channels, such as multimedia mobile units, child-to-child media programmes and theater networks.
HIV prevention efforts for in-school children
The Ministry of Education and Culture has developed a communication strategy which clearly defines key areas for fighting HIV and AIDS in the education system.
HIV prevention activities in schools focus on life skills education as part of the regular curriculum and as extracurricular activities. This strategy is aimed at the ‘window of hope’ generation, comprising of children between 10 and 14 years of age.
The strategy is being implemented by the Ministry of Education and Culture and several civil society partners in order to ensure consistent messages in schools and guarantee the harmonisation of the content of the extracurricular life skills programme with the content of the formal curriculum.
In addition to supporting life skills education in primary schools as part of the curriculum, UNICEF supports an HIV prevention programme implemented by people living with HIV through extracurricular activities for school children in grade 4 and 5.
UNICEF supports youth participation and community development through a range of community-based activities such as mobile units, community theatre and radio programmes to empower citizens with information and knowledge needed to lead healthy and productive lives.
Mobile units travel to communities and are used to stimulate community debate on HIV and AIDS, reproductive and sexual health and girls’ education. The social mobilisation activities also include information and discussions on preventable diseases, nutrition and immunisation.
A mobile multi-media unit is a vehicle equipped with a video projector, a big screen, and a radio and is stocked with information, education and communication material. Each unit carries tents, which can be set up as counseling rooms or spaces for group discussions.
Community theatre has proven to be a successful way of encouraging community debate and motivating people to make improvements in their lives. The Community Theatre Network, a collective of 100 theatre groups that works all over the country, invites members of the audience to actively participate in their plays as performers.
Through these lively performances where everyone has a chance to get involved, awareness is raised and positive behaviour promoted in the areas of HIV prevention, basic health and immunisation, girls’ education, gender awareness and hygiene education.
The Child-to-Child Media Network is the voice and face of Mozambican children in the local media. The network involves children and young people in the development, production and presentation of TV and radio programmes. Child abuse and violence, HIV and AIDS, hygiene and sanitation, basic health and nutrition, education and entertainment provide content for programming.
Today, more than 780 children and adolescents are participating as producers and presenters in media programmes (TV and Radio) in Portuguese and 16 local languages in all 11 provinces of the country. The programmes have also gone beyond the studios, involving communities and local service providers in live programmes.