This has been a year of great accomplishments at AID FOR AIDS International, and we would like to share with you one of those accomplishments, of which we are most proud: the contribution that our office in Venezuela has made toward the prevention of HIV in that country.
“Cuanto Sabes?” (How much do you know about HIV and AIDS?) is a primary HIV preventive education program that was created and first executed in Venezuela in 2004. Since then, the program has expanded into a number of other Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia and Ecuador.
“Cuanto Sabes?,” which trains high school students to become peer HIV educators, promotes a culture of individual responsibility and healthy sexuality among adolescents. The program currently reaches more than 600,000 adolescents in the LAC region, through the support of organizations such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has been our largest funder over the past 3 years. The program in Venezuela also received support from the Ministry of Education in sector Aragua during the 2008-2009 school year, and from the Miranda State Board of Education Miranda for the past two years.
The young teens in Cuanto Sabes? receive once-a-week HIV training over four consecutive months, in partnership with their local schools. The program Incorporates novel concepts in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) that empower students by helping them to integrate valuable life skills into their daily lives. The program is unique for its capacity to enable peer educators (known as “multiplying agents” or agentes mutltiplicadores) to frame discussions about HIV transmission and prevention in ways that best resonate with the program’s teenage audience.
Adolescents completing the training become peer educators (multiplying agents), sharing information with their classmates, friends, families and communities, with the aim of reducing the spread of HIV and eradicating the stigma and discrimination surrounding it.
In Venezuela, the results have been remarkably successful, Indeed, different parts of the country, including La Guaira, Maracay, Guarenas, Guatire Valles, Barlovento, and High Mirandinos in Miranda State, have replicated the “Cuanto Sabes?” teacher training in their own public schools.
None of this would have been possible without the financial support of the Elton John Foundation and the aforementioned educational institutions, and the excellent work of the education professionals at AID FOR AIDS in Venezuela.
“The dedication of our professional staff and funders is what inspires us to do this work every day,” said Lupe Aguais, director of our office in Venezuela and creator of the “Cuanto Sabes?” program. “We plan to continue developing a culture of prevention and protection, not only among youth, but also for our children. Our priority remains stopping the spread of HIV and creating a protective environment in the classroom for those living with this health situation.”