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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Wednesday in New York launched an awareness and prevention kit aimed at halting the spread of the HIV and AIDS in Nepal.

The kit targets to control the spread of HID/AIDS particularly among the under 40-age group, which are the most at risk.

“Prevention is the only way to limit the spread of HIV and education is the foundation for developing the behaviours that can reduce risk and vulnerability: it can promote awareness; empower individuals to make free and informed decisions; and develop attitudes and competencies that reduce risky behaviour,” UNESCO said.

The HIV and AIDS situation in Nepal has been categorized as a “concentrated epidemic,” which is spreading rapidly amongst its most-at-risk groups, the agency added. More than 70,250 people in the adult population (15-49 years) are estimated to be living with the HIV virus, while the largest number of HIV positive cases in the last 18 months was reported among 15-24 and 30-39 year olds.

To build upon its other efforts towards HIV prevention, the UNESCO office in Kathmandu has adapted an advocacy toolkit that was first developed in 2002 in Thailand, to the Nepali context. The toolkits, which will be supplied to the Ministry of Education, was pre-tested in a two day workshop in November 2006 followed by further training last December.

The kit includes comprehensive information on the nature and transmission of HIV and AIDS, HIV prevalence in the world and Asia, the impact of the pandemic on educational systems, the need for preventive and life skills education and ways to facilitate the latter, and information on international treaties and commitments relating to HIV, AIDS and education. Fourteen countries in the Asia-Pacific region have so far adapted and launched the 2002 advocacy toolkit.

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