Educating Congolese Villagers About HIV/AIDS

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The IANS/Hindustan Times on Saturday examined the German aid agency GTZ'sefforts to educate people living in rural areas of the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo about HIV/AIDS. GTZ in March launched a mobilesex education caravan to travel hundreds of miles to Maniema, a remoteCongolese province with no borders to any other countries and few pavedroads. According to the IANS/Times, Maniema has not beenhighly affected by HIV/AIDS, but the emerging mine industry and influxof workers could create a "new breeding ground" for the disease.

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TheGTZ project established five stations with different educationalcomponents under a mango tree in a village using tree branches andcolorful fabric. Setting up under a mango tree aims to appeal to thevillage's local traditions and make people feel more comfortable aboutlearning the material, the IANS/Times reports. "To bringpeople together, we found out what is the traditional way to do so. Andthat's around the mango tree," Achim Koch, project manager of GTZ'syouth initiatives in the region, said.

About 10 people visiteach station at one time to learn about HIV transmission, preventionand management, as well as different contraceptive methods. The lessonsare targeted at youth, particularly young men who were drafted intomilitia groups during conflict. The learning is interactive andincludes games in which participants must describe the risks of HIV inparticular situations.

According to the IANS/Times,about 200 people visit the stations daily, and the group has reachedmore than 16,000 people since it began the project. The United Nationsestimates that the country's HIV prevalence is between 1.7% and 7.6%among the general population and that it might be as high as 20% amongwomen in the country's conflict zones (IANS/Hindustan Times, 11/17).
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