The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) reviews its strategic objectives and operational plan once every five years, with a high emphasis on young people and adolescents as a key vulnerable population. Currently at the close of its National Aids Control Programme III (NACP III), that is scheduled to reach its targets and objectives around mid-2012, NACO has renewed a multi stakeholder platform for civil society, working groups and technical experts to provide key recommendations for NACP IV. The programme will build on the successes of NACP III, focusing on increased coverage and prevention services for high-risk groups and vulnerable populations. As part of this process, ensuring participatory and inclusive decision making, TYPF worked to engage young people and adolescents to provide key recommendations for NACP IV.
In May and June 2011, TYPF, along with support from Plan India, and technical guidance from UNESCO, carried out a set of youth-led consultations with adolescents and young people to obtain their inputs and recommendations on HIV Prevention, AIDS Education and Sexuality Education provided under NACO’s guidance in schools. The set of consultations reached out to 287 young people across five states, (Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh), encouraging the meaningful participation of adolescents and young people in NACP. These young people were from both in-school and Most-At-Risk contexts. Qualitative recommendations from the consultation were provided to NACO and members of the Youth and Adolescence Working Group on August 4th, providing critical input on the future direction of AIDS education programming for adolescents and young people.
The discussions raised the issue of the inability or unwillingness of teachers to address issues of sexuality and sexuality education in classes – even when questions were posed to them. When it came to curriculum regarding anatomy, reproduction, and general sexuality education many participants shared that whole topics would be skipped over by teachers. These “chapters of silence”, as described by one participant, only perpetuate uninformed attitudes and practices related to HIV & AIDS and sexual practices.
“Teachers are meant to answer questions. They must be informed and able to do the same. If they don’t tell us about our body, we won’t get that information from anywhere else, or we’ll get incorrect information. They must be able to answer questions from both sexes. This is important information, it concerns our daily lives.”
– Male, 14 years old, Mau, Uttar Pradesh
Some key recommendations from young people included,
The need for youth-friendly health services in communities, where young people are not stigmatised for accessing services.
Programmes that specifically address issues of violence against women by offering safer sex negotiation, consent, and life skills training within relationships, to young women. It is important to include young men in these programmes as well, to create stronger sensitisation in communities.
Greater sensitisation of doctors towards children who are HIV+ and children should be given information on their rights and the kind of treatment they will receive.
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