Stella (left) with two volunteers during an outreach activity in Tegucigalpa
Alberto Stella, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Honduras
In 2007, UNAIDS helped youth participation in the national response to AIDS in Honduras with the creation of the UNAIDS Network of Young Volunteers. Members of the network are young people who are committed to changing the course of the epidemic in the country. The network works in partnership with the United Nations Volunteer Programme, local community-based organizations, and civil society.
“We believe that meaningful youth participation is crucial to a prevention revolution and to increasing HIV awareness among young people in Honduras,” says Alberto Stella, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Honduras.
UNAIDS provides volunteers with technical support for the planning and implementation of community mobilization and outreach activities, as well as a physical space where volunteers can work independently. About 40 young people have taken part in this initiative since 2007, and through their work they have been able to reach young people at a national level.
¨We built an information-sharing mechanism between UNAIDS and young people through social media and the UNAIDS website”, explains Edgardo Benítez, a volunteer with the network. “We felt that there was a lot of available information but no easy access to it. Through social media we regularly share key documents, announcements and updates”.
The Network also coordinates a documentation centre in the UNAIDS office, which has national and international publications on HIV and related issues, and is used frequently by young people for academic research.
UNAIDS organizes regular training for volunteers in HIV prevention, human rights, and related issues. This enables them to share their knowledge with their peers. The Network of Young Volunteers has partnered with universities and high schools to conduct workshops in urban and rural areas.
Outreach activity at a public school in Olanchito, a province in northern Honduras.
“In rural areas, most people still hold taboos and myths about HIV”, explains Sheila Serón, who has been an active volunteer since 2007. “While volunteering with the network I had the chance to inform girls that they could avoid HIV infection by using condoms in a correct and consistent manner, as well as emphasize the importance of taking an HIV test.”
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