SOUTH SUDAN — The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in partnership with Lakes state’s HIV/AIDS Commission, has facilitated a comprehensive 10-day ‘Change Agent’ training program aimed at dispelling myths surrounding HIV/AIDS and raising public awareness about the disease. 

The training saw the participation of 26 individuals, predominantly women, drawn from various institutions, including hospitals and community organizations.  

This diverse group of participants engaged in intensive sessions designed to empower them with the knowledge and skills necessary to become effective peer educators within their communities. 

A key focus of the training was on HIV prevention strategies, with a particular emphasis on safe sex practices and the correct use of condoms.  

Participants were educated on the latest methods of HIV prevention, ensuring they are equipped to share accurate and practical information.  

Furthermore, the sessions addressed the critical issues of stigmatization and discrimination, which can severely impact the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS.  

By highlighting the social barriers and prejudices that often accompany the disease, the training aimed to foster a more inclusive and supportive community environment. 

One of the participants, Atet Manuella, expressed her gratitude for the knowledge she gained during the workshop.  

She remarked, “This training has not only equipped me with the knowledge of how to protect myself from the virus but also how to care for people who may be afflicted with it.” 

She went on to elaborate that there is need for widespread awareness campaigns and  and she now feels a sense of responsibility to share what she had learned with her community.

This will be crucial in ensuring that people affected by HIV/AIDS do not face stigma and that everyone is aware of safe practices to protect themselves. 

John Malith, another participant, emphasized the importance of debunking myths related to HIV/AIDS.

He pledged to mobilize community elders to disseminate accurate information about prevention methods during community meetings and other public forums.  

For her part, Prescilia Arop, Chair of the HIV/AIDS Commission, praised the enthusiastic response from the participants and highlighted the importance of regular health check-ups for pregnant women.  

“Regular pre-natal checkups are vital in eliminating mother-to-child transmission. Additionally, everyone should get their HIV status checked at a hospital. With the right medications, people with this virus can live a long and fulfilled life,” she commented, urging the community to take proactive measures in managing and preventing HIV/AIDS. 

Stephen Odera, UNMISS’s HIV/AIDS focal point in Rumbek, expressed his satisfaction with the dedication shown by the new trainees 

He went on to say he hopes that all participants will carry out awareness campaigns in their communities on how HIV is transmitted and what to do if one is infected with the virus.  

He also noted that he expected them to educate the public about prevention measures whenever possible thus make them more informed and compassionate society. 

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