Despite recent adanvces in medical treatment, HIV/AIDS continues to be at crisis levels in many developing contries. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 40 percent of new HIV infections, with some 2,400 new infections among this age group every day.
In Ethiopia, sex education can be a taboo subject. To address the issue, several youth groups have formed dance troupes and hold public performances to raise awareness of the disease.
Addis Beza, one such youth group, performs regularly in public spots around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, handing out informational leaflets and encouraging people to get tested for HIV free of charge in nearby mobile testing clinics.
These clinics have been set up by the Organisation for Social Services for AIDS (OSSA), Ethiopia’s largest NGO working on HIV/AIDS, and it can attract up to one thousand people over the course of five days. If somebody is found to be HIV-positive, they are then referred to a local health facility for access to treatment, care and support.
The Beza youth group is one of many across Ethiopia supported by OSSA which, assisted by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, is now ramping up efforts to focus on young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Only one-third of young people in that age group have comprehensive knowledge of HIV.