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NAC announces upcoming symposium

By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter

The National AIDS Commission announced this week that it will hold a National HIV/AIDS Youth Symposium to commemorate World AIDs Day.

The symposium will be held in collaboration with the University of Belize, and hosted at the Jaguar Auditorium at the university’s Belmopan Campus. The event will be celebrated under the theme “Youth: Breaking the HIV/AIDs epidemic by 2030.”

Arthur Usher, communication and programs manager at the NAC, explained that the event will include a variety of presentations and performances including songs, poetry, and drama. Dr. Peter Weller, a clinical psychologist, will give the keynote address.

Weller is known for spearheading the development of a coordinated and comprehensive counseling and welfare program for people living with HIV in Jamaica.

The NAC, which is mandated to oversee the national response to the HIV epidemic, released the results of the Country Report on Knowledge, Practices, and Attitudes (KAP) toward persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLHV) in September.

The survey, conducted by the Statistical Institute of Belize, provided data on the most recent indicators and trends in prevailing sexual practices among the younger population ages 15 to 24 years, and existing knowledge and attitudes toward PLHV in the wider population 15 to 49 years.

From the data the NAC concluded that education can curb early sexual activity among Belizean youth. The data showed that while approximately three-quarters of the youths who were not attending school were sexually initiated, less than two-fifths (38.7 percent) of those who were attending school had already engaged in sexual intercourse.

Additionally, more than three-fifths (63.4 percent) of youths who had not completed primary school were sexually initiated, compared to just over a half (52.8 percent) of the youths who had completed their primary education.

The symposium will be held on December 1, to coincide with World AIDS Day.

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