New Volunteers Arrive in Swaziland with HIV/AIDS Focus

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 2003 – Thirty-five new Peace Corps volunteers arrived today in the southern African nation of Swaziland to begin work in the area of HIV/AIDS education and awareness. Last week in a meeting with Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez, His Majesty King Mswati III praised Peace Corps for their previous 20 years of service and is please that Peace Corps volunteers will be returning to Swaziland to focus on HIV/AIDS education awareness and prevention.

Currently, the greatest problem confronting the people of Swaziland is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In 2002, the HIV/AIDS infection rate of adults (ages 15 to 49) was 33.4 percent, and approximately 35,000 children have been orphaned as a result of AIDS. To assist the people of Swaziland in combating the pandemic, Peace Corps volunteers’ assignments will include: training teachers and community members in life skills aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention; initiating and promoting programs in HIV/AIDS awareness; identifying partnerships and resources alliances to fight the epidemic; strengthening existing HIV/AIDS intervention strategies and activities; mobilizing communities to respond to the effects of HIV/AIDS; and working with in-school and out-of-school youth and with orphans.

From 1968 to 1996, 1,185 volunteers have served in Swaziland, chiefly working in the areas of education, community development, and agriculture. Peace Corps arrived in Swaziland within a year of its independence from Great Britain, and the original program’s objectives were to respond to Swaziland’s need for educated and trained human resources by raising general education and technical skill levels.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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