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Empowering young indigenous people as peer educators to facilitate HIV prevention in their villages
Issues: Issues: Socio-economic and cultural practices of tribal (indigenous) groups such as marriage, family, and sexual customs are very different from mainstream population. Literacy and other human development indicators have been very low in comparison to the state average. Most of the adolescents and young people from these groups migrate in search of employment, usually as unskilled laborers. Migration increases their vulnerability, leading them to indulge in unsafe sex practices and other addictions. Data shows that many of them return with HIV infection and pass it to their spouses and other sexual partners, continuing the cycle. These families, being poor, have many socio-economic disadvantages, including loss of livelihood and social discrimination. Most of these groups have less access to basic facilities related to health, communication, education, etc.
Description: South Orissa Voluntary Action strives to create opportunities for these young people to fight against HIV and related discrimination in their communities. Youth from these groups are identified as peer educators, trained on basic health, livelihood options and HIV, skilled with group formation and community organizing techniques, and provided pictorial information kits. The peer educators then organize their communities in order to form self help groups and take up common livelihood and other developmental initiatives.
Lessons learned: As the tribal groups lead sequestered lives, this process has helped to enhance their capacities to lead and educate their groups on HIV, empowering them to indulge in safe sex practices and reducing the instances of stigma and discrimination. Peer educators have proved to be change makers and have been able to address their social and economic needs.
Next steps: This strategy has proved effective especially amongst groups where literacy has been low. This experience needs to be shared with others and replicated in other tribal groups. More pictorial communication materials need to be developed.
Abstract no. CDC0734
” S. Patnayak Empowering young indigenous people as peer educators to facilitate HIV prevention in their villages. : : Abstract no. CDC0734 “
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