Adolescence and HIV/AIDS
While the incidence of HIV/AIDS is extremely low in Sri Lanka compared to the rest of South Asia – the infection rate for people aged 15-49 is currently estimated at less than 0.1 per cent – there is no guarantee that things will stay the way they are. Lack of conclusive data on the extent of HIV/AIDS remains a problem. Government estimates of the number of people living with HIV/AIDS vary between 1200 and 6900 persons, 40 percent of whom are women.
A national survey in 2005 showed that despite attempts to improve awareness among young people on HIV/AIDS and STDs, the majority know very little about HIV infection, modes of prevention, common symptoms and signs. According to the survey, significant numbers of Sri Lankan young people think HIV can be spread through mosquito bites, kissing or sharing meals.
Given low levels of awareness, there is an urgent need to build the knowledge, skills and capacity of young people and educators who work with and influence the attitudes and behaviour of adolescents.
UNICEF programmes aimed at adolescents and to combat HIV/AIDS include:
What Religious Leaders Can Do about HIV/AIDS.