Cameroon launches AIDS awareness campaign for young holidaymakers

YAOUNDE, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Cameroon on Wednesday launched a campaign dubbed AIDS-Free Holiday to create awareness of the epidemic among students on holiday.

Cameroon was resolute to combat sexually transmitted infections especially HIV/AIDS among young people, the country's Minister of Youth affairs and Civic education, Mounouna Foutsou said while officially launching the campaign in the capital Yaounde.

"Holiday is a period of strong mobilization of young people. We want to keep them safe during this period," Foutsou said.

As part of the campaign which will run till August 31, over 600 young peer educators will be dispatched to 10 regions of the country to sensitize holidaymakers on the dangers of irresponsible sexual behavior.

Officials said, youths between 14-24 years are the key target of the campaign which will be guided by the theme "HIV or COVID-19, you can protect yourself, stay safe".

According to the Ministry of Public Health, six out of 10 infections in the Central African nation are among young people with girls being the most vulnerable.

AIDS-Free Holidays, an initiative of Cameroon's First Lady, Chantal Biya, has sensitized over 11 million young people, screened over 300,000, and distributed close to three million male and female condoms since it was launched in 2003, according to statistics provided by Synergies Africaines, a non-governmental organization run by Chantal Biya that organizes the sensitization annually.

About 2.9 percent of Cameroonians aged 15-49 are infected with HIV and only 39.1 percent of young Cameroonians aged 15-24 know about HIV prevention, according to a 2021 annual report published by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS.

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