LookAtVietnam – Sexual and reproductive health related information should be made more readily available so that children can learn how to protect themselves.
Monks at Phap Van Pagoda in Ha Noi’s Hoang Mai District guide students to safe sexual and reproductive health so that they can protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.
“Many children are approaching adulthood so instead of raising awareness about the way in which the disease can be transmitted, equip them with knowledge of gender and safe sex so that they will know how to protect themselves,” said Trang.
In addition, the communication project should also develop school based and community based counselling centres by training teachers to be counsellors and providing advanced skills for volunteers to ensure that children can access information easily.
The Child-focused HIV Prevention, Care and Support for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS project, funded by Deutsche Bank, was first launched in 10 districts of HCM City and Hai Phong to help reduce the stigma and improve living conditions for children living with HIV/AIDS in 2004.
The project expanded to Hai Phong City’s Le Chan District and HCM City’s Go Vap District in it’s second phase in 2007.
“Awareness is much better than it used to be. The community has opened it’s arms to these children by not only giving food but letting them join in other household activities,” said Nguyen Thi Phuong, a volunteer at Dong Hai Ward in Le Chan District.
These children have also broken out of their shells to overcome society’s prejudices and learned know how to protect themselves against infection, said Phuong.
According to the Head of Le Chan District’s Health Care Department, statistics from Hai Phong Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention show more than 9 per cent of the district’s 320 children living with HIV/AIDS are orphaned. All of them were reported to be living in difficult financial situations.
In addition to communication programmes and direct support for children living with HIV/AIDS, the project also helped their families financially by funding business investments to help improve living conditions.
Head of HCM City’s Department for Child Protection and Care, Phan Thanh Minh said: “The project did help a lot in terms of technical transfer and improving communication skills.”
According to figures from HCM City’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, there are 201 children living with HIV/AIDS in Go Vap District, an increase of 44 per cent compared to three years ago.
Head of the district’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Pham Thi Bich Loan said that the large immigrant population, which accounted for 42 per cent of the total population, and a low education level in the district were the main reasons.
According to project manager Nguyen Hoang Son, in the third phase of the project, which would continue to offer support for a further three years, in addition to providing full scholarships and financial support for affected children and their families, the project would also further strengthen communication activities in schools with a focus on teachers and parents associations to improve the children’s living conditions.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News