Knowledge is the Key to HIV Prevention

Youth training to be HIV support volunteers participate in a group exercise
UNDP in Uzbekistan: The enthusiasm and social-awareness of youth volunteers has played a vital role in increasing HIV testing rates throughout Uzbekistan

Zebiniso Muhsinova is only 21, but she nevertheless conducts her HIV awareness mini-sessions for schoolchildren with the confidence and flair of a veteran trainer.

“The active participation of young people, and their eagerness to learn about and secure themselves against HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse is amazing,” Ms. Muhsinova said.

Highlight

  • To date the project has provided over 50,000 young people, a small portion of the approximate 15 million people living in Uzbekistan aged 15 to 24, with HIV prevention services.

Ms. Muhsinova is one of many trainers employed by Uzbekistan’s ‘Kamolot’ Youth Movement, engaged in preventing HIV among young people through UNDP’s HIV Project in Uzbekistan as funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Hundreds of youth activists, trainers and volunteers from all across the country have shown their determination to stop the spread of HIV, by joining the project and doing their best to reach out to young people in order to empower them against this epidemic.

“Practice shows that our students are generally aware of these conditions,” Ms. Muhsinova said. “However, what they lack is an in-depth understanding of their consequences, their impact on the human body, and how best to avoid them. I strive to fill these gaps, and I feel truly rewarded by the student’s reactions to my sessions.”

The project has established a strong partnership with the ‘Kamolot’ Youth Movement, Uzbekistan’s largest youth organisation with a broad network all across the country.

In its associated work, ‘Kamolot’ conducts nationwide interventions and trainings in order to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse, encourage HIV prevention, and advocate for healthy lifestyles.

To date the project has provided over 50,000 young people, a small portion of the approximate 15 million people living in Uzbekistan aged 15 to 24, with HIV prevention services.

Trainings for peer to peer educators, mini-sessions in schools and colleges, the distribution of IEC materials and the dedication of engaging volunteers have all helped to ensure the success of preventive interventions for Uzbek youth.

Ms. Muhsinova’s fellow 20-year-old trainer Rasul Karimov has been impressed with his student’s social consciousness, and their interest in sharing the information they have learnt with others.

“The young people we educate not only learn, but also engage their friends and peers. Often after a session I am approached by participants who want to further share what they have learnt,” Mr. Karimov said.

“They try to fully master all the knowledge and skills we provide, and later conduct their own sessions among their friends, peers and family members.”

HIV prevention activities among the young of Uzbekistan, who represent approximately 50 per cent of the nation’s population, continue throughout all parts of Uzbekistan. Many young people have shared the enthusiasm of Zebinniso, Rasul, Shohruh and Bakhtiyor to further spread the word, and to enhance the HIV awareness of youth in Uzbekistan.