Peace Corps Recognizes World AIDS Day; More than 1,000 Peace Corps Volunteers Involved in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education
December 1, 2000Washington, D.C., December 1, 2000—"As President Clinton and other world leaders raise awareness about the threat posed by the spread of HIV/AIDS, Peace Corps volunteers are doing their part to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease," said Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider.
In a speech today at Howard University, President Clinton praised the Peace Corps initiative to train all 2,400 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 25 African nations in HIV/AIDS education and prevention. It is the first time that the Peace Corps has mobilized the efforts of all Peace Corps volunteers on one continent to fight a single disease. By the end of the year, the number of Peace Corps volunteers working in the field of HIV/AIDS is expected to increase six-fold.
"The HIV/AIDS crisis is not only undermining social and economic development in Africa. It is, in my view, the dominant humanitarian challenge confronting the world today," said Schneider. "However, it is not a situation without hope. By working collaboratively with communities and governments, Peace Corps volunteers can make a tremendous contribution to preventing the spread of this disease." There are now over 1,000 volunteers working on HIV/AIDS prevention and education in Africa and volunteers in the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia also are being trained.
Peace Corps headquarters hosted several events this week designed to raise awareness about the disease, and volunteers around the world will participate in AIDS-related activities. In Niger, Peace Corps volunteers participated in a bike race with the 20,000 people in local communities. In Tonga, Peace Corps volunteers will participate in a candlelight vigil. Volunteers in Mali will take part in a multi-regional conference for the nation's youth to bring together youth and health officials to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS problem in the region.
Peace Corps Volunteers are uniquely suited to work in the fields of HIV/AIDS prevention and education because they live and work in the communities where they serve. Volunteers are trained in the local language and are able to share information in a culturally sensitive way.