Young people in eastern Afghanistan have gone door-to-door to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS as part of a United Nations-backed campaign.
Nearly 400 awareness-raising sessions have been carried out across six districts in the province of Nangarhar.
In the Kampoona neighbourhood in the provincial capital, Jalalabad, youth educators met people in the streets, sharing information about HIV and AIDS, as well as handing out flyers and postering walls.
“The message was conveyed, and people who were covered by the campaign are now aware of the danger of HIV and the safeguards needed to protect themselves from its infection,” said Nur Agha Zwak, director of Nangarhar’s Department of Youth, which trained the youth educators to carry out the community-based awareness training.
The Afghan National AIDS Control Programme says that 504 people in the country have been documented as HIV-positive as of November 2008, but the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that the number is significantly higher.
Low levels of surveillance and testing, combined with the stigma attached to HIV, have made it almost impossible to document the reality of the epidemic in Afghanistan, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).