UNICEF supports the project with information and education materials as part of its network building of partners to facilitate youth centered action against HIV/AIDS. Samilo remembers how encouraged she was when she saw an advertisement in the local newspaper announcing a rally to be held on the beach for people living with HIV.
Asked whether she feels nervous about talking to the gang leaders, Kenny says she has learnt to communicate with them. You shouldn’t put yourself up above them.” The project works closely with 68 youth groups, which have been set up in the sprawling settlements around the city, and she says most of the gang leaders now know her and do not threaten her. Her counsellor had told her that it would be good to get together with other people living with HIV in order to share ideas and problems. “I was shocked to find that there were only two people, a husband and wife.” Samilo and the married couple now work together, closely with the Special Youth Project, educating the youth about HIV/AIDS.
She also says they need more sensitization workshops especially for youth leaders to increase their skills, and she would like to see the setting up of Youth Friendly Health Services, where young people can get specialized attention for sexual health matters, including HIV/AIDS and STIs, without having to go to the hospital, which can sometimes be intimidating for young people. She has recently started to take anti-retroviral drugs, which are free, but presently only available at the central hospital in the capital and in the other major city of Lae.
Samilo on her part says she will continue with her HIV/AIDS awareness work. She explains that she has developed asthma and last year she suffered from tuberculosis and pneumonia. Besides her commitment to her works, she also has her dreams.
She tells the silent crowd that her second child died of an AIDS-related illness. She then warns them to practice safe sex and use condoms.
Using a dildo, she demonstrates the correct way to put on a condom. A young, burly man asks without emotion, “Do you have any regrets about publicizing your HIV positive status?
The World Bank estimates the HIV/AIDS prevalence at between 50,000-75,000.
Since mid 2000, HIV/AIDS has been the leading cause of death among young adults in the Port Moresby General Hospital.
There are plans to scale up this project to cover all schools in the country.She talks in Tok Pisin about how she felt alienated after her father, an accountant, was wrongly sent to prison, and how her mother could no longer afford to send her to school, although she had been doing well.She says that she began to smoke, drink and had an affair with a married man, and that she gave birth to a daughter when she was only 15 years old.Furthermore, tuberculosis patients occupy 30 per cent of all hospital beds followed by HIV/AIDS (14 per cent).Conditions in the mainland and surrounding islands of 5.4 million people are fertile for a rapid spread of HIV/AIDS.