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Dec 3, 2004

Teens learn consequences of behaviour

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The week set aside to focus on the AIDS pandemic may be coming to an end, but efforts to combat the disease remain in high gear. Patrick Jones reports from the Belize City Centre.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

With statistics showing a worrying trend in HIV infections, the Pan American Social Marketing Organization is engaging the nation?s young people in taking a hard look at their behaviour. Media Coordinator for PASMO Hayden Hawry says the hope is that the group hardest hit by the disease will be the one to turn the tables on AIDS.

Hayden Hawry, Media Coordinator, PASMO

?Overall the purpose of this is to create as much impact as we can with as many young women and girls in Belize as possible to raise awareness of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, which are affecting young girls more than any other group in Belize. We see young girls between the ages of fifteen to twenty, especially the high school age, where we are seeing the most amounts of new infections in 2004.?

The forum gave participants a chance to take part in interactive games that teach basic facts about the disease. One activity utilized a chemical process that helped to drive home the message of how easy it is to be exposed to HIV and that the only way to be sure of your status is to get tested.

Tanjay Martinez, Second Form Student, St. Michael?s College

?HIV doesn?t have any face, if you know somebody that have HIV, don?t discriminate them because HIV doesn?t tell whether you will get it, it doesn?t have a partner.?

?The experiment that I took part in show how easily and quickly you can catch AIDS. It only shows when you get tested.?

Patrick Jones

?Knowing now how easy it is to be exposed to HIV, how do you share this information with other young people??

Tanjay Martinez

?Well my way to share with young people is to stay abstain or don?t take a risk.?

Andrew Tzul, Third Form Student, St. Michael?s College

? I learned that AIDS is a very easy thing to catch because in the experiment that they did a while ago, in all the cups everyone had tap water and one person had vinegar. And when they poured the water in my cup, I didn?t know what it was at first. But when I started asking questions to others if their water smelt like vinegar all of them said no but then I knew that my water was going to turn red. So when they poured it in mine, I knew I was infected at the moment.?

Patrick Jones

?Now having learned how easy it is to be exposed to HIV/AIDS, how are you going to protect yourself??

Andrew Tzul

?First you protect yourself by having a faithful partner or using abstinence or condoms or don?t have sex at all. Wait till you are married, have your partner and be careful in your life.?

Hayden Hawry

?The main message that we want to communicate to young girls today is to abstain from sex until you are sure that your partner is HIV negative or at least you know the status and you can talk about it with your partner. Abstain from sex until they know all the possible repercussions consequences and responsibilities that that involves.?

If they are already sexually active — and statistics indicate that boys and girls as young as thirteen are having sex — the forum also spoke about condom use. None of the students at the City Centre this afternoon, however, were offered condoms by the organisers. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Organisers hope that today’s activity will be replicated in other districts so that more high school students will be exposed to relevant information. The forum was supported by Alliance Against Aids, the National Aids Commission and Ministry of Health.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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