Identifying challenges and advantages of peer education in STIs and HIV
prevention education with youth at risk in Pakistan
SADA, Development (NGO), Quetta, Pakistan
Objective: One percent of the newly diagnosed STIs and HIV cases in
Balochistan, Pakistan are individuals/youth at risk 8–17 years of age. Our
epidemiologists indicate that STIs and HIV cases among youth increased between
1998 and 2003. While clearly an at-risk demographic, youth are rarely targeted
with STIs and HIV prevention education. To empower youth the pilot project at
the Youth Empowerment Skills fills that gap by utilizing youth at risk/street
children as peer educators administering STIs and HIV prevention programming.
Methodology: In thirty-minute Life Skills education sessions, peer
educators provide out of school going youth sound, realitybased information that
increases their awareness about STDs/HIV and the spread of the virus. Sessions
encourage vulnerable youth to recognize how the virus impacts their lives and
gives them a forum to discuss the issue with people of their own age.
Findings: Launching a Peer Education program, which includes awareness
of self and body protection focusing on child sexual abuse and STDs/HIV, life
skills, gender and human rights/children rights awareness, preventive health
measure, and care at work. Opening care- and counseling center for these working
and street children and handling these centers over to local communities. During
awareness sessions, youth are informed about the nutrition, physical and
psychological changes, masturbation, menstrual cycle, family planning and STDs/HIV.
It was determined relationships among HIV related knowledge, beliefs and sexual
behavior of young adults and found that reason for unsafe sex included,
misconception about disease etiology, conflicting cultural values, risk denial
partner pressures, trust and partner significance, accusation of promiscuity,
lack of community endorsement of protective measures, and barrier to condom
access. In addition socio economic pressure, physiological issues, poor
community participation and attitudes, and low education level limited the
effectiveness of existing HIV prevention education.
Conclusion: Presentations at centers by peer educators have
demonstrated that audiences over 12 years of age typically have only basic
information about STIs and HIV. Confusion regarding the difference between HIV
and STIs and the specifics of risk related behaviors generated interest in the
presentations. Additional conclusions will be drawn as the pilot progresses and
administrators tabulate survey results and conduct focus groups with peer
educators and participants.