The Cambodian Ministry of Health has begun training primary education teachers in 12 provinces on HIV/AIDS prevention education, the Phnom Penh Post reports. Health officials said that although children in primary school are not seen as a high-risk population, they need to be educated on the disease. Mean Chhi Vun -- director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs -- said the students "are a group of people we have to pay attention to because they ... will be the backbone of the nation."
Secondary-school aged students currently are receiving HIV/AIDS education, and the programs are being used as a model for the new primary school initiative, according to Pen Saroeun, director of the Ministry of Education's School Health Department. Some health officials have said that young people are becoming increasingly at risk for HIV, and most outreach efforts target commercial sex workers and their clients and not young people, the Post reports. Saroeun noted that the HIV/AIDS prevention education program has been successful in secondary schools and is the reason the ministry decided to launch the program in primary schools, adding that many students drop out before reaching secondary school. He said, "We will teach them basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS and life skills, such as negotiation skills, how to say 'no,' goal setting, and how to provide care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS." The ministry plans to double the $100,000 it allocated to HIV/AIDS education spending last year with additional funding from the United Nations Population Fund, according to Saroeun. He added, "If we are successful in those 12 provinces, then we will do it in the other provinces" (Kunthear, Phnom Penh Post, 5/19).
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