Peace Corps Commemorates World AIDS Day

40 percent of Peace Corps volunteers conduct HIV-related activities

WASHINGTON, D.C. Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams commemorated World AIDS Day 2010 on December 1 with a series of events to increase awareness of HIV prevention and education. He also expressed pride in the work Peace Corps volunteers do worldwide.

Every day thousands of Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level to help in the worldwide battle against HIV/AIDS, Williams said. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to honor the memory of people who have been taken by AIDS and to remember the hard work that must be done at home and abroad to win this battle.

Globally, nearly 40 percent of Peace Corps volunteers conduct HIV-related activities as part of their primary or secondary project work. Last year, Peace Corps volunteers participated in HIV education and prevention activities that reached over 1.1 million individuals. Much of Peace Corps response to HIV is made possible by the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program designed to promote HIV prevention around the world.

Peace Corps volunteers worldwide regularly teach classes in HIV prevention, educate at-risk populations, develop community support for children orphaned by AIDS, and educate communities about safe blood donation, voluntary medical male circumcision, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

HIV education and awareness projects span all Peace Corps regions. Following are examples of current programs:


Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic are working with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to film a series of soap opera episodes encouraging HIV prevention. The series is part of the I Choose My Life curriculum, or Escojo Mi Vida. The volunteers have enlisted a youth theatre group trained as peer promoters to film the series.


Peace Corps volunteers in Usonga, Kenya are working with 10 community-based organizations to highlight PEPFAR-funded HIV/AIDS services and promote behavioral changes within the community. Volunteers also helped launch a youth health club that will have the support of a Peace Corps volunteer to promote healthy lifestyles.


Two Peace Corps volunteers recently worked with community members and university students to implement the Life for Life project in a city with one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country. The project involved peer teaching at universities and high schools, peer mentoring at an orphanage, an anti-discrimination performance, and public HIV/AIDS awareness activities.


During World AIDS Day activities at Peace Corp Headquarters, Director Williams recognized dozens of returned Peace Corps volunteers who are involved in HIV education and prevention programs. Director Williams also encouraged Peace Corps staff to contribute to a community engagement open-house linked with the agencys ongoing Combined Federal Campaign activities.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961 by executive order. Peace Corps will commemorate 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world through 2011. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 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.

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