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Celebrities with Diseases: Turks lack sex education, UNAIDS official warns

Turks lack sex education, UNAIDS official warns
 from Celebrities with Diseases, August 12, 2011

Turkey should provide sex education to young people and establish a working partnership with civic groups to curb an increase in HIV infections, according to a visiting official from UNAIDS, the UN agency fighting AIDS.

“Young people in Turkey seem to be sexually active earlier and earlier… The level of information for young people is not sufficient,” Dennis Broun, UNAIDS chief for Europe and Central Asia, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday. “There should be more promotion for the use of condoms. It’s not advertised enough among young people,” he said. UNAIDS is pressing the government to establish a mechanism of “contractual” partnership with civic organizations such as Positive Living, which groups HIV carriers, and gay and trans-gender associations such as KAOS-GL and Pink Life, to reach out to people in high-risk groups and marginalized communities. “We would very much want this dialogue and planning to start this year, so that there is action in 2012. The government tells us they are ready for that. They are showing a lot of good will,” Broun said, following talks in Ankara with Health Minister Recep Akda and other officials.

The mechanism, he said, should enable civic groups to take on a broader role in public health by helping sex workers, their clients, men having sex with men and transgender people access information and prevention services such as condom distribution and rapid HIV testing. Turkey stands out in Eastern Europe as a country with a low HIV prevalence and the only one that provides full access to treatment for infected people, Broun said.

“The level of HIV infection in Turkey is low, but it’s growing and the number of new cases increases every year,” he said.

In 2009 and 2010, Turkey registered 528 and 627 new HIV cases respectively, bringing the total to 4,525. The Joint United

Nations Program on HIV and AIDS, or UNAIDS, is the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV epidemic.

The mission of UNAIDS is to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to HIV and AIDS that includes preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support to those already living with the virus, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. UNAIDS seeks to prevent the HIV/AIDS epidemic from becoming a severe pandemic.

UNAIDS is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, where it shares some site facilities with the World Health Organization.

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