Since its creation in 2004, AID FOR AIDS’ HIV prevention program “Cuánto sabes de VIH y Sida?” (How much do you know about HIV and AIDS?) continues to be a complete success. The expansion of the program into many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and the long time that it is in course are proof of this success. With five updates to its curriculum, the program has evolved dramatically and continues to do so because we live in a world that is constantly evolving. Currently, the program is performing a pilot project of its workshops aimed especially at the LGBTI community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) in four countries: Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and soon in Panama.
The program “Cuánto sabes de VIH y Sida?” in addition to providing tools for HIV prevention, works to strengthen the youth in what we know as “life skills”. These, are skills necessary for a proper development and positive behavior that enable individuals to effectively address the demands of daily life (as recognized by the WHO). These skills prepare us to recognize our own emotions and feelings in order to communicate more effectively, to manage conflict, and to be better human beings with critical thinking, thoughtfulness and confidence in our decision making.
“One of the reasons why we are targeting the LGBT community through this pilot project is that in previous sessions we have perceived special concerns about acceptance in society within the LGBTI youth. Furthermore, we are working with the Secretary of Public Health of the City of Cali and the Department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, which consider that the LGBTI population is a vulnerable community within the region. As such, both entities considered our program as a perfect component to their work with these popultions, especially because it incorporates: clear and precise information about HIV prevention and the strengthening of life skills, which are certainly a major issue for young LGBTI community” said Dora Guzman, Program Coordinator in Colombia since 2005.
“Another key objective of this pilot project is to conduct a survey to find out more information about the specific needs of LGBTI youth in the region so we can incorporate them to the general “Cuánto sabes de VIH y Sida?” Program said about Lupe Aguais, Creator and DIrector of the program.
In conclusion, “Cuánto Sabes de VIH y Sida?” in general, seeks to reach all youth. The program however, understands that needs vary among the different segments of the population (for example, the LGBTI community). Regardless, the ultimate goal remains the same, no matter what population we reach: to empower youth and enable them to recognize their values and areas for improvement. This in turn, will help them make better decisions, develop responsibility and take better care of themselves. The program too, encourages all young people to pursue a life plan, which helps them identify what they want to be in life and the strengths and capabilities that they have to reach this goal.
The Educational Program of AID FOR AIDS ” Cuánto sabes de VIH y Sida?” Is a reality thanks to the valuable support of Elton John AIDS Foundation and many local entities in the countries where it operates