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Helping adolescents to live a positive life

Print version
01 December 2016
3 3 Photos

A group of 30 HIV-positive young people has gathered in a cosy conference hall in Tashkent, for a training that aims to help them learn more about living with HIV with a positive attitude. Here, in a secure and friendly atmosphere, they get essential information on HIV and AIDS and learn how to foster a responsible attitude towards their own health and come to terms with their diagnosis.

Through a variety of interactive sessions, games and discussions, the participants learn about the importance of getting the right medical treatment and proper nutrition. The role of healthy life style and hygiene, as well as dangers of smoking and drug addiction are also explained. The teenagers also share their main challenges and successes, forming close bonds that help them accept from their diagnosis.

Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan, says it is extremely important that these adolescents go on to become role models who inspire their peers. «When other children see how you behave, they will stop fearing and they will stop hiding. This is important that you give this opportunity to other HIV-positive children to help them have a chance in life.»

The three-day workshop organized by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan is part of national training events for supporting adolescents living with HIV. It also helps in achieving the long-term goal of preparing them as peer educators who can support others with the same status.

UNICEF works with the Government of Uzbekistan to ensure high-standard HIV-prevention, treatment and care across the country. This includes efforts to create regional networks of peer supporters that have proven very effective so far.

«As of now, we have helped to establish a network of peer supporters in some regions," said Sascha Graumann. «With this experience, we are trying to establish this network and expand it in other regions as well. Because we believe that these kinds of networks can provide social and psychological support to other children," says Sascha Graumann.

«The training gives people the unique opportunity to talk openly and without fear about what being HIV-positive means to them," said Muborak Bikmetova, Head of Department at the Republican AIDS Centre. «Stigma and the fear prevent many living with HIV from seeking professional counselling support. Even adults cannot talk with their family members about this. You want to share your thoughts on this disease with someone else. But you cannot share this with many people," she told participants of the event.

The training for adolescents also includes parallel sessions with their parents. It helps them to provide support to other care givers so they will be able to accept the status of a child living with HIV and provide all necessary support and care.
The course will be followed by training sessions for paediatricians who provide treatment, care and support to people living with HIV. In total, the week-long national events in Tashkent will involve 95 adolescents from nine regions of Uzbekistan, 75 parents and 11 paediatricians.

«Do not let these sessions stop, «says Nargiza, who came here from Andijon with her HIV-positive daughter Lola. «They are helping our children change and making them more cheerful," she adds looking at her daughter cheerfully chatting with new friends.

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UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.

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