20 September 2011 – Continuing its campaign to raise local awareness about HIV/AIDS, UNMISS is holding a 10-day HIV/AIDS Change Agents Course for participants from the Government of South Sudan Uniformed Services in Rumbek, Lakes State.
Thirty-two members of South Sudan military, police, and wildlife and prison services as well as representatives from the State Ministry of Health and UNMISS are participating in the training, which began on 12 September.
A key topic for participants, who are expected to advance behaviour change surrounding the disease in their communities, is Basic Rights of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Gender and HIV/AIDS.
Speaking at the workshop today, UNMISS Chief of HIV/AIDS and Policy Advisor Michael Munywoki said the training was an important step in bringing change to local communities.
"Change agents target the community and this programme is pegged to sustainable behaviour change," he said. "Change agents are also very effective in mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in the DDR (Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration) programme."
Course participant Moses Ater said he was keen to attend the training to increase his knowledge of the disease.
"Currently I am taking the lead in HIV/AIDS prevention in the state Ministry of Health so it is very important for me to have this training," Mr. Ater said."The level of HIV/AIDS awareness is low because some areas in the state are not even covered by the mass media, so they do not receive the message."
He added that the state lacked comprehensive statistics on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and urged the government to join hands with other partners in fighting the scourge.
The training is part of capacity building support UNMISS is providing to the South Sudan Aids Commission.
"In May the Director of the South Sudan AIDS Commission requested UNMISS to support in HIV/AIDS capacity building across South Sudan," Mr. Munywoki said.
UNMISS plans to host additional HIV/AIDS training in collaboration with the Aids Commission and the UN Population Fund later this year.
The trainees will complete the course on 22 September.