Young boys and girls in the Centre Region who took as duty from the 19-30 August this year, to sensitise and educate their peers on HIV preventive measures, how to live happily while being HIV positive as well as encouraging them to know their HIV status, were honoured by the First Lady of Cameroon, Mrs Chantal Biya yesterday, in Yaounde. During a ceremony to mark the end of the 8th edition of the AIDS-Free Holiday Campaign at the headquarters of African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering, the youths, who are popularly known as “peer educators”, were not only awarded attestations of encouragement for a work well done, but were each, handed special gifts of didactic materials, a bag of rice and beans from Mrs Chantal Biya. In return, the peer educators in a “thank you” message to the First Lady reaffirmed their commitment to continue in the battle against HIV, while expressing their gratitude for her engagement in fighting the HIV pandemic and other sufferings.
Chairing the event, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, in the presence of other members of government, diplomatic corps, national and international partners involved in curbing the disease in Cameroon said the campaign was a period for youths to reinforce their knowledge on the HIV disease which is greatly affecting their generation particularly young girls between the ages of 15 to 24. Besides minor difficulties, André Mama Fouda saluted the courage with which the peer educators carried out their duties. The Minister also expressed joy with the manner the AIDS-Free Holiday Campaign initiated by the First Lady in 2003 is gaining magnitude amongst young people involved in the HIV struggle.
Given the circumstance in the programming of this year’s AIDS Free-Holiday Campaign which took place during the end of the holidays, the Executive Secretary of African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering, Jean Stéphane Biatcha, said although the results of the campaign have not been completely established, the objectives of the campaign were attained. With dynamism, enthusiasm and engagement, Stéphane Bitacha remarked that the peer educators carried out their duties as true ambassadors in the fight against HIV. As such, he urged the peer educators to prolong the sensitisation campaign in their various schools. Statistics on the 2010 AIDS-Free Holiday Campaign indicate that although the campaign was organised under the theme “young girls do your HIV screening”, young girls still remained less interested in knowing their HIV status as not many of them came up for voluntary HIV screening.
Brenda YUFEH, Peer educ