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SARID, March 6, 2007

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization yesterday launched an awareness and prevention kit aimed at halting the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nepal, particularly among the younger segment of population, under the age of 40. As this South Asian county is presently experiencing the fastest rate of new HIV infections, there are almost 100,000 people in living with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

Health experts have projected that HIV/AIDS will become a leading cause of death over the coming years in Nepal. It has been categorized as a “concentrated epidemic,” which is spreading rapidly amongst its most-at-risk groups, such as migrant population, sex workers and intravenous drug users.

United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) notes that in 2003 there were as many as 61,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Nepal. Today, more than 70,250 people in the adult population (15-49 years) are estimated to be living with the HIV virus.

Over the past few yeas, UNESCO Kathmandu has been very active in integrating HIV/AIDS education in formal education and non-formal education through its Community Learning Centers (CLC) activities, focusing on different type of awareness activities on HIV/AIDS for women groups, adults and school students.

As the next step in fighting the disease, the UNESCO office in Kathmandu has adapted an advocacy toolkit that was first developed in 2002 in Thailand. The toolkits, which will be supplied to the Ministry of Education, was pre-tested in a two-day workshop in November 2006 followed by further training last December.

“Prevention is the only way to limit the spread of HIV and education is the foundation for developing the behaviors that can reduce risk and vulnerability: it can promote awareness; empower individuals to make free and informed decisions; and develop attitudes and competencies that reduce risky behavior,” UNESCO said.

The kit includes comprehensive information on the nature and transmission of HIV and AIDS, HIV prevalence in the world and Asia, the impact of the pandemic on educational systems, the need for preventive and life skills education and ways to facilitate the latter, and information on international treaties and commitments relating to HIV/AIDS and education.


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