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World AIDS Day: Togo girls break the silence

Young woman speaks to crowd about girls’ leadership as part of Plan-supported youth club activity in Togo, Africa.PHOTO: Plan staff
Young woman speaks to crowd about girls’ leadership as part of Plan-supported youth club activity in Togo, Africa.

PHOTO: Plan staff
December 1, 2010

Nadia has been a member of her local youth club in Togo, Africa for the last two years. The Plan-supported youth club provides an opportunity for young people to come together and discuss their sexual health and rights.

Talking about HIV

For Nadia, learning about HIV and gaining the confidence to discuss it openly has opened a new world for her. “Here we’re like a family. We’ve been learning a lot, but I’ve especially got to know myself better as a girl, how to protect myself from sexually transmitted infections and HIV,” said Nadia.

Education has given Nadia confidence. She can now address cultural taboos with her family and within her community.

Nadia explained: “In the past speaking about sex was forbidden. As a consequence, my sisters and I didn’t even dare talk about subjects related to sex. But now it’s no longer like that – my parents have changed a lot thanks to meetings they attended with us at the club. The knowledge that we’ve gained from the club has made dialogue between me and my parents and my sisters easier.”

“I’ve also become a member of the village development and youth committees. Adults ask me and other members of the youth club to organize discussions with women and girls on topics related to sexuality. The club facilitators have also taught us how to carry out income-generating activities. Knowing about business can help me become an entrepreneur, which is especially important for girls. This means I won’t have to rely on someone else or look for the easy way out, which is often what drives girls into the arms of men.”

Plan worked in partnership with the Togolese Family Planning Association for three years and helped over 1,000 young people between the ages of 15 to 19 years.

World Aids Day 2010

Nadia’s story is not uncommon. Plan works with children and young people to help them break through the stigma and taboos surrounding HIV and AIDS.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2010 is universal access and human rights. Plan calls for global leaders to commit to their pledge to work towards universal access to HIV treatment, prevention and care – recognizing these health needs as fundamental human rights. Valuable progress has been made in increasing access to HIV services, yet greater commitment is needed around the world if the goal of universal access is to be achieved.

Did you know…

Togo has a HIV prevalence rate of 3.3%; one of the highest in West Africa.

Plan has been working in Togo since 1988, helping children and youth to access their rights to health, education, protection and participation.

Learn more about how Plan helps empower children, families and communities to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS.

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