Peace Corps Volunteers Respond to HIV and AIDS Across the Globe

Peace Corps Commemorates World AIDS Day

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2008 - Peace Corps Volunteers around the world continue to be key participants in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV, and to help establish programs for the care of those affected by HIV and AIDS. To commemorate World AIDS Day, Peace Corps is renewing its commitment to combat the pandemic through its volunteer programs.

"Incorporating HIV/AIDS education into Volunteers\' work in local communities demonstrates Peace Corps\' commitment to fighting this deadly disease," said Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter. "Since Peace Corps Volunteers live at the local level with the people they are serving, they have a unique ability and trust with people in discussing this very difficult issue."

HIV/AIDS is an important focus of Peace Corps\' programming and training, and is integrated across all of the agency\'s program sectors. In 2007, Volunteers carried out HIV and AIDS-related activities that provided assistance worldwide to over 1 million individuals in prevention and care, along with over 84,000 service providers, and over 3,800 organizations.

Peace Corps is a key partner of the President\'s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Through PEPFAR, the United States now leads the world in its level of support of the response to HIV and AIDS. The Peace Corps is part of this global effort and works with host country partners to provide a range of innovative programs that help those most in need. Regardless of their assignments, Volunteers include HIV/AIDS messages into their projects.

Here are a few examples of how Peace Corps Volunteers have made a difference across the globe:

  • Bright Tate, a Volunteer in Malawi, has been working with an AIDS awareness group called the Chimwemwe (Happiness) Support Group Hope for Life. The group recently met with a number of similar groups and discussed forming a regional support group. Two members of Tate\'s group were elected to the executive committee of the regional support group. They were also awarded a bicycle to help transport people living with HIV and AIDS to local clinics. "This day gave my friends and fellow group members hope for life," said Tate. "They were energized, empowered and hopeful. I have never been such a proud or joyful member of any group!"

  • Theodore Davis, a Volunteer in the Krygyz Republic, organized a mural arts project in the city of Osh to address HIV and AIDS. There he brought together NGOs, local government officials, professional artists, and art students, who through PEPFAR funding created a three-story-tall mural with a powerful, professional design to encourage greater awareness of HIV/AIDS.

  • Annie Huang and Whitney Schlotzhauer, Volunteers in the Philippines, collaborated on introducing HIV and AIDS prevention education into their work. They designed and held a workshop on HIV and AIDS for three high schools and two community colleges. Both were interviewed on local radio stations to talk about HIV and AIDS and to invite the general public to join a Candlelight Ceremony to remember persons who died from or are living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Tait Davidson (Tanzania, 2005-08) began her service as an HIV/AIDS Outreach Volunteer in 2005, then extended her service to work as an HIV/AIDS and Life Skills teacher at a vocational training center for vulnerable youth and orphans. With the help of PEPFAR funding and support, Davidson coordinated numerous seminars for students focusing on themes such as girls empowerment, and making memory books.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served. Applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last 5 years. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 76 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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