GAIA created the Teen Peer Education program in 2014 after learning that teens often lack access to adequate reproductive health information. In Mali, 46% of women have given birth before the age of 18. New HIV infections are more common among pregnant adolescents, making them a high-risk population. The Teen Peer Education group targets young adults aged 14 to 18. The program’s goal is to empower adolescents to become leaders among their peers.
One in 3 of the teen attendees is not in school; this is a very vulnerable sector of the population much in need of this program. By keeping this program co-ed, we are ensuring that boys also have access to relevant reproductive health information. Teens enjoy their weekly education sessions with our expert HIV-seropositive Peer Educator, Socrates. They are able to sit together and learn about challenging subject matter like teen health issues, STDs, HIV and HPV without embarrassment. Socrates facilitates this open approach to learning with jokes and laughter. In 2016, he has engaged more than 840 participants in this program.
We have now implemented the program permanently with funds from The Gilead Foundation.
Teen peer education has been proven as a successful means of HIV prevention, and we are eager to demonstrate the effectiveness of these low cost, community-run programs that reduce stigma and raise awareness among the most at-risk sector of the population.
Parents have informed Socrates that their teens have begun behaving in a more mature manner. Some participants have asked Socrates to come to their classrooms to lead an education session.