The HIV infection rate in Southern Africa is among the highest in the world. Despite the availability of information on the AIDS pandemic, people are still not changing their behaviour said Elizabeth Lwange of UNDP, Mbabane. From 5 to 14 February 2001, UNESCO organized a handson awareness-raising workshop in Mbabane, Swaziland for education, health care and communication professionals from Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe to assist them in preparing post-literacy materials aimed at helping people, changing their behaviour towards practicing safe sex, and ultimately saving their lives. The workshop went beyond the usual technical information right to the roots of all HIV-related problems; in other words, the relationships between women and men and the cultural practices influencing these relationships. The materials subsequently produced are targeted at reaching the people who are most at risk: poor rural people, particularly women and girls. They are also designed to reach men, who have been singled out as the most important actors in bringing about successful HIV/AIDS prevention. The lessons learned during the workshop are clear. First, there is hope. Second, communication about HIV/AIDS must be conducted with sensitivity and compassion towards all concerned if it is to have a positive effect.
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