HIV and AIDS prevention for Russian Youth: Channeling Hope

hiv in russiaOver 9,000 youth will have access to counseling and guidance on HIV and AIDS prevention in Saint Petersburg through a project called 'Channeling Hope'. World Vision started the prevention activities earlier this month. More than 80 faith leaders and social workers will be involved in the project, trained by World Vision to support and better equip them to reach out to vulnerable youth.

The most vulnerable youths identified are aged between 14-24. This age group makes up almost one third of newly diagnosed HIV infec¬tions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to UNAIDS 2006 data.

"Considering the current situation in Russia, we must use all the resources and routes for the effective and comprehensive HIV and AIDS prevention and fight. More involvement of Russian Orthodox Church and other religious communities will help us to fill in the gaps between people in need of care and support and official bodies in Russia" said Donald Postnov, HIV and AIDS Coordinator for World Vision Russian Federation.

The launch of the project marks the engagement of clergy of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in the prevention of HIV and AIDS among children and youth of the city. Together with social workers of the northern capital of Russia, ROC's clergy are committed to promoting safe behavior and Christian values among children and youth from boarding schools and orphanages, students of technical vocational schools, juvenile patients of rehabilitation centers and AIDS-centers, and juvenile delinquents.

The Channeling Hope initiative is based on one of the HIV and Aids programming models World Vision has developed internationally with very positive results. It looks among many other things at including and involving clergy, faith leaders and social workers in the prevention, education and awareness raising of young people and adults.The models is called Channels of Hope (COH) and together with Abstinence and Risk Avoidance for Youth (ARK) forms is key in giving hope to the new Russian generation.

The first year of the project has recently started, while the yet unfunded follow up phase, consisted of activities such as providing referral systems and pre/post-test counseling for the youth.

via Reuters AlertNet