Just when many observers are envisaging that there will be no AIDS-Free Holidays campaign this year given that it is barely 19 days to the start of the 2010/2011 academic year, partners in the fight against HIV in Cameroon have once more revealed their determination to curb the pandemic by the timely launching of the 2010 AIDS-Free Holiday. They said so yesterday at the Yaounde Conference Centre. Under the Patronage of Cameroon’s First Lady, Chantal Biya, national and international partners involved in curbing the deadly disease in Cameroon have braved the financial difficulties encountered in organising this year’s AIDS-Free Holidays. Within 11 days that is from 19 to 30 August, authorities are sure to touch the lives of youths against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which is ravaging the youthful population between the ages of 15 to 24 especially the female sex. The campaign is taking place under the theme “young girl, do your HIV screening”.
One of the major partners in the fight against HIV, the Executive Secretary of African Synergy Against HIV and Sufferings, Jean Stéphane Biatcha, said unlike before when the AIDS-Free Holidays campaign was launched at the beginning of the month of August, this year, it could not, due to enormous financial problems. Stéphane Biatcha said it was difficult getting financial partners to sponsor the campaign. But since the campaign is an initiative of the First Lady launched some eight years back, the Executive Secretary of African Synergy Against HIV and Sufferings said they could not have left the campaign to die so soon. Reason why African Synergy came together with other partners such as the National Committee to Fight HIV, CERAC, the Ministries of Youths, Secondary Education, Social Affairs, Higher Education, Women Empowerment and the Family, Presse Jeune, Chantal Biya Foundation, German Technical Cooperation, ACMS, IRESCO, CANEP, Association of People Living with HIV and various UN systems in Cameroon to preserve the initiative of the campaign.
During the launching ceremony which was spiced by thrilling cultural presentations, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda took to the rostrum to encourage young people to know their HIV status as a gate way to curbing the disease. According to him there is still time to build the capacity of at least 500,000 youths on the modes of transmission and protection against HIV. During the next two-weeks, about 400 peer educators will parade the streets of cities and villages in the country to disseminate HIV educational messages.