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HIV/AIDS prevention is central theme at Brazil’s largest scouting meeting

UNICEF Image: Brazil HIV prevention workshop
© UNICEF Brazil/2006/ Ribas
A group of children participating in an HIV prevention workshop held during the Jamboree III meeting.

By Flavia Ribas

BRASILIA, Brazil, 31 July 2006 – Over 400 Brazilian Boy Scouts and Girl Guides participated in a series of HIV/AIDS workshops during Jamboree III, the biggest scouting meeting in Brazil. The activities, which ran from 16-20 July, emphasized the importance of learning about and preventing HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

The workshops were conducted by UNICEF and the Brazilian branch of the World Association of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, as part of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign.

Sharing information

“Learning about prevention is important for our health and also for our future,” said Tatiana, an 11-year old girl who participated in one of the workshops. “What I learned here, on how we can get AIDS or not, will be useful when I grow older. It is a dangerous disease that destroys our immune system and I do not want to live with it.”

UNICEF Image: HIV game 'The Path to Prevention’
© UNICEF Brazil/2006/ Ribas
Workshop instructor Jorlany tests youth's knowledge on HIV with the game 'The Path to Prevention.'

Instructors held hour-long workshops and used a board game called ‘The Path to Prevention,’ to illustrate the importance of preventing new HIV infections.

“We share information,” said 19-year old Jorlany, one of the instructors. “Young people like to talk about what they have learned with other people at home or at school. They help to spread good attitudes, behaviour and information.”

“We are often surprised about their level of interest, even at an early age,” Jorlany continued. “They are curious and always want to learn more. We must be open and show them how important it is to be protected, without hurting their principles or religious beliefs.”

Holding up a mirror

At the end of each workshop, adolescents received a confidential questionnaire, designed and distributed by UNICEF, to evaluate their own behaviours. Through the questionnaire, the youths could assess their vulnerability to HIV infection and decide whether or not to have an HIV test.

Jorlany herself has learned an important lesson through teaching the workshops. “You can’t really tell if you have prejudice or not against people living with HIV/AIDS until the day you meet someone who is HIV-positive,” she said. “Then, you see that it’s someone just like you, or like any of your friends,

“I always tell children about it. We show them a hidden mirror and say: ‘Take a look at what a person with HIV may look like.’ When they open it and see their own face, they understand that everyone is vulnerable to HIV.”




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