HIV is a growing problem in Russia. Especially in Togliatti and Dimitrovgrad, the number of infections among young people is high. Many youth are unaware that their own actions put them at risk. To combat this problem, Dorcas started the ‘Knowing is Living’ project to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Many youth don’t know that drug use and unprotected sex are destroying their lives and many don’t know that they are sick.
‘I didn’t know’
The awareness activities are already having an impact. 17 year old Elena is one of six thousand participants of the programme. She says ‘I will make sure to take better care of myself. We learned how our immune system works and thanks to assignments and games, it was easy to understand. I now realise that I need to take better care of myself and that I should change certain habits’. Sixteen year old Karina was really worried after hearing the information. ‘If only I had known before! I won’t be able to sleep until I get the results from my tests. I’m starting a new life.’
A dedicated team of staff and volunteers is visiting schools and other locations to raise awareness. Arsen, a young volunteer shares: ‘I’m involved because I believe I can make a difference in my city. Many young people are getting infected with HIV. During the sessions I found out that many youth don’t even know what HIV is.’
We have been receiving hopeful messages about this project. The AIDS Centre in Togliatti were already able to confirm that there are fewer new cases of HIV in the area. Olga Rashaeva, one of our volunteers says: ‘I have seen that the project helps people to change. It’s causing people to think about what they are doing and it’s saving lives. That is why this work needs to continue.’
05 December 2016