“This was the first time I heard conclusive discussions on AIDS other than what we heard in School among our friends. I did not believe before now that HIV/AIDS was real but this workshop changed my perspective.” remarked Josephine Conteh, 15years from Kono
Josephine like all 50 participants in Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni have been sensitized on HIV/AIDS issues through a workshop with the theme “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS”
Each of the districts had a two day workshop and all the workshops ran through from the 16-25 July
The Freetown workshop which is the last of the series of workshops will end today.
In all of the various workshops, consultations were made as to how a national consultative conference would be held in October that will also start a national campaign against AIDS to target especially children.
This regional conference and the October conference are all children’s affairs because according to Mr Mohamed Kai Sandi, Behavior Change Communication Officer working for National AIDS Secretariat “we realized that children have been left out in our campaign especially in planning, monitoring and evaluation of our activity.
He pointed out also that they noted that 58% of the population in the country are children and that they discovered that the most tragic form of transmission of the virus is through mother to child transmission.
Lastly he said that because of the fact that children are the future leaders they are doing all they can to bring them on board to participate actively in the HIV campaign.
Mr Salieu Jalloh, the UNICEF Programs Communication Officer for HIV/AIDS agreed with Sandi on the various reasons for engaging children in HIV/AIDS issues.
He related how UNICEF is focusing on vulnerable groups, namely children and pregnant women.
“We in the UNICEF are concerned about children, because children were absent in all the messages for prevention, treatment and care,” said Jalloh.
Accordingly the organization is targeting HIV prevention among children and transmission of the disease from pregnant women to their children.
The workshop was collaboratively done by the Ministry of Social Welfare, the ministry of Development, UNICEF and the UN Country Team.