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UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea prepares staff to train others on AIDS control

UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea prepares staff to train others on AIDS control

As part of the ongoing United Nations efforts to address the AIDS pandemic through its peacekeeping operations, the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) today announced that it has begun training its military and civilian staff to educate others about the deadly disease.

The HIV/AIDS "Training of Trainers" course, which is also being provided to the Eritrea Defence Force, is designed to strengthen the capacity of UNMEE's contingents and field headquarters to carry out behaviour change interventions for the mission's military and civilian personnel. The week-long programme, which began on Monday, also has the goal of increasing access to and use of male and female condoms for all UNMEE staff, and building the mission's capacity to provide HIV/AIDS counselling and testing services.

"We are aiming at a behavioural change intervention in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Lt. Col. Mike Munywoki of UNMEE, the course coordinator and chief training officer.

While the current effort involves UNMEE and Eritrea, Lt. Col. Munywoki predicted that the training would soon be extended to Ethiopia. "A liaison officer from the UNMEE office in Addis [Ababa] is expected to join the programme in due course," he said.

The joint effort announced today is part of a major UN push to ensure that the issue of HIV/AIDS is addressed within peacekeeping operations. With Secretary-General Kofi Annan having made the fight against AIDS a personal priority, the UN has been increasingly frank and committed to the battle against the pandemic, which is especially severe in Africa, where more than 25 million people were living with the disease by the end of last year.