Youth, and in particular, adolescent girls, are the most at-risk sector for new HIV infections in Mali. As well as being infected with HIV, girls can become pregnant, drop out of school, and suffer from lack of financial or family support.
Teen peer education has been proven to help raise awareness among adolescents about the risks that they face. As peer-to-peer interactions are important for the success of youth education programs, we have teenage educators through our local partners in Bamako, Mali. They are trained by adult HIV educators, and work with local health services to create communication tools for adolescents in Bamako by providing weekly discussions. Condoms and free HIV testing are available at each session.
These HIV education sessions reach both teens attending school and those that do not. The weekly discussion sessions' goal is to help teens talk about the issues that they face as well as how to avoid risky sexual encounters. GAIA VF evaluates the HIV knowledge, attitudes and practices among the participants before and after participation in this program, so that we can examine the effectiveness and success of this program. In time it will greatly reduce the number of HIV+ girls in Bamako.