There are more than 60 million people that catch into HIV. The prevalence of HIV in the Republic of Azerbaijan is currently low, but the rapidity of the epidemic's spread is alarming: the number of people living with HIV in Azerbaijan has multiplied over the past ten years (National AIDS Center, 2005). The first case of HIV infection was registered in 1987 (non-citizen; the first case in a citizen was registered in 1992). As of 1 January 2005, the number of officially registered cases was 718; of this group, 109 people have developed AIDS and 62 have died. Moreover, according to local and international experts, the realistic estimated number of PLHIV is approximately ten times higher than the number of officially registered cases.
It’s important that young people participate - let’s not forget that children and young people are most important resource for future development.
Azerbaijan has no tradition of informing young people about their sexual health - it was ignored during Soviet times so superstition and misinformation are still widespread. Children and young people cannot access adequate healthcare services or information, so are exposed to unwanted pregnancies, STIs, HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.
And outside Azerbaijan, we are still part of a global society and need to continue our efforts and initiatives. That is what we are doing and will do!
With our team of 20 facilitators, we travelled on our decorated bus from one district to another (attracting the attention of hundreds of people and passing cars) to increase HIV&AIDS awareness among children and young people.
Most of the children had very little information about AIDS and as a result, at the end of each training, there were many questions. And not only from children – many teachers joined our trainings, taking part in the discussions and asking questions, not for the children’s benefit but because they were unsure themselves.
It was exhausting at times but it was a great experience for us because we could reach so many participants from such diverse areas - we reached 500 young people in 5 different regions.
But this is not the end of the road. There are those who are waiting for us. There are many children and young people out there who have many questions, who are not aware. There is still a lot to be done.
As youth organization Azerbaijan Tafakkur Youth Association gives its special attention to this field and as one of its main priorities trying to give more contribution.
Location: Khirdalan, Azerbaijan