Peace Corps Commemorates World AIDS Day
December 1, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2009
Peace Corps is commemorating World AIDS Day with several events designed to educate Peace Corps volunteers, staff and host communities about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our 75 host countries. Additionally, regional recruiting offices and universities are convening information sessions for prospective Peace Corps Volunteers.
Peace Corps volunteers are an effective grassroots component in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. Every day, our volunteers are able to integrate culturally appropriate activities into their service projects to help their host communities take preventive measures against the epidemic as well as help those who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Over 3000 Peace Corps volunteers worked on HIV/AIDS related activities over the past year. Peace Corps volunteers work directly with health care workers, teachers, farmers, businesspeople and youth to develop localized and effective techniques to combat HIV/AIDS. From prevention education to youth development to nutritional counseling, Peace Corps volunteers provide assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS and work to slow the spread of the disease.
Peace Corps is a key partner of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Launched in 2003 to combat global HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history.
The following are a few examples of how Peace Corps volunteers have made a difference in the past year:
- Uganda: Volunteer Nicole Fiol Molina from Bayamon, Puerto Rico is working on a demonstration farm that was created by a former Peace Corps volunteer that breeds pigs and goats as a way to support orphans and vulnerable children in their communities, many of whom are HIV-positive. The project provides sustainable income that will pay for school fees, healthcare, food and a way out of poverty for the children involved.
- Macedonia: Volunteers Mike Greenwell from Salt Lake City, Utah helped a local NGO that provides HIV/AIDS awareness programs organize HIV/AIDS training. Participants were trained to become peer educators and learned to teach HIV/AIDS awareness using a theatrical approach. The trainees can now hold their own trainings and seminars and have gone back to their communities to educate others.
- Guatemala: Volunteers Grant Picarillo from Fairfield, Conn. and Ryan Walsh from San Antonio, Texas are working in their host communities to improve HIV/AIDS education and prevention. Picarillo serves as a middle school teacher and Walsh is working with the staff of his local Health Center to promote preventative measures. Both have utilized artistic talents and humor to successfully address the sensitive topic in their communities. Walsh designed posters to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and commemorate World AIDS Day in Guatemala.
Peace Corps remains committed to delivering innovative programs that build long term, sustainable solutions to HIV/AIDS. Peace Corps will continue to be flexible in its response, adapt to meet different needs in different locations, and adjust its actions in light of new evidence and best practices. For more information on our work in the field of HIV/AIDS, please visit our website at www.peacecorps.gov.
As Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with over 7,600 volunteers serving in 75 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.