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Changing behaviour to prevent HIV and AIDS in Zambia

© UNICEF Zambia/2008/Inzy
UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba (centre) at Kabulonga Girls High School in Zambia.

LUSAKA, Zambia, 5 May 2009 – Zambia has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Over 1 million Zambians carry the virus, and more than 150,000 Zambians between the ages of 15 and 24 are living with HIV.

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Around the country, there is a massive, ongoing effort to educate Zambia's young people about HIV prevention and encourage them to avoid risky behaviour. Chinyanta Chimba, 19, is a participant in that campaign.

What is ‘behaviour change’?
For more than a year, Chinyanta has been recording interviews for the Digital Diaries project of Voices of Youth (UNICEF’s online community for young people) and UNICEF Radio. She recently documented a series of workshops focusing on behaviour change.

"'Behaviour change' is to act in an acceptable way a way that society appreciates," Chinyanta says. Or as one of her young interviewees, Agape Malenga, puts it: "'Behaviour change' is a positive change in one's character."

The workshops tackle some controversial topics that are often overlooked in a normal school day but are a still a part of daily life. Many of the workshops are led by Student Partnerships Worldwide (SPW), a youth-led non-governmental organization that places youth at the forefront of change and development. Chinyanta trains young people through SPW.

"Let's invest in our education," she suggests. "Let's try to work harder in school. Let's be a voice to other young people coming up."

Constructive activities
Chinyanta has found that participants are inspired by the behaviour-change sessions. "Workshops really do help," says participant Boaz Mukajewa. "People can be transformed."

Boaz adds, however, that it is not entirely young people’s fault when they get involved in risky behaviour. "There's too much unemployment, such that [young people] have nothing to do,” she says. “They end up doing things that can spoil their lives."

The workshops encourage young Zambians to help effect change by staying in school, engaging in constructive activities and avoiding dangerous behaviour. "Living life positively is the best,” says participant Agape Malenga, “because if you live in life in a bad manner, you won't enjoy the benefits of living life."




UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba, 19, talks about behaviour change and AIDS prevention in Zambia.
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