Peer Leaders for AIDS-Free Africa and America

plafaaPeer Leaders for AIDS-Free Africa and America (PLAFAA) is a peer-to-peer collaborative program of Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach (SOHO) designed to empower American youth to become active participants in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs and be advocates for healthy lifestyles both at home and abroad. PLAFAA team members will work with peers of supporting churches and organization to reach their youth both prior to and after their trip to Africa.

Fourteen students representing six Central Indiana high schools have been undergoing intense training on HIV/AIDS prevention, STI and Substance Abuse Prevention, and the challenges of making healthy and wise life choices. After their trip to Swaziland, the students will be prepared to bring that training their home communities.

In the summer of 2015, the peer leaders, primarily from Christel House Academy and Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, will set out on a mutual learning experience in Swaziland, Africa. After two weeks of peer education health clinics, humanitarian service and cultural immersion, the Peer Leaders will return to Central Indiana inspired, changed and prepared to be advocates for healthy lifestyle choices in the Indianapolis Community.

Jump-RopeTWO PLACES, ONE PROBLEM

Swaziland is a country of natural beauty, but it is well known for its HIV/AIDS prevalence. Swaziland has the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. The country has a life expectancy rate of 49 years, one of the lowest in the world. The population is young, with 39% under the age of 14. Nearly 125,000 children have lost a parent to AIDS. An estimated 15,000 households are headed by children raising their siblings by themselves.

Though Swaziland is far removed from Indianapolis, Indiana, both places share a common challenge: HIV/AIDS is posing an increasing threat to youth 10 to 17 years of age.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, a total of 10,279 persons in the state of Indiana were living with HIV/AIDS by the end of December 2011. HIV-positive individuals get tested most often at ages 20-29, some with AIDS. Research shows that for some, infection may have occurred as young as between the ages of 10-19. Information from the CDC indicates nationally, the rates are increasing among 15 to 10-year-olds. In Indiana, 8% of new cases were children and youth ages 13-19.

Peer LeadersWHAT DID THEY DO?

In collaboration with SOHO Swaziland, nongovernmental organizations and several academic institutions, the 14 Student Peer Leaders participated in the following:

  • Addressed over 2,500 students at four high schools and one primary school in school convocation.
  • Conducted sessions focused on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education with over 75 peers from Swazi Youth Leadership groups.
  • Met and dialogued with civic leaders, health and social services providers.
  • Participated in two community health clinics impacting over 250 people
  • Distributed donated school uniforms, shoes, clothing, hygiene products, school materials, and technology valued at over $20,000.
  • Provided humanitarian services to orphans and vulnerable children in four rural Swazi communities.

2015 PLAFAA Itinerary

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