Today, the National Committee for Families and Children and the United Nations Development Programme launched a Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Mass Media Campaign.
It's built around two themes; the first is for young girls aged 11-14, and it's called "Wait and noh Worry" and it emphasizes the need to delay sexual activity. The other them is for those 18 to 24 year olds and it's called: and "Choose and Use". It emphasizes consistent condom usage and monogamy amongst sexually active youths.
Both were launched today, and we wondered, with one stressing abstinence and the other encouraging safe sex, could there be some mixed messages:
Martin Cuellar - Executive Director, National AIDS Secretariat
"The first campaign is targeting one particular group of - that we identify as being particular vunerable and that is young girls who are pre-sexual activity, between 11 and 13 years of age. The other group is completely separate, and that campaign is also separate. Now hat second campaign is targeting young people who are more adults, those between 18 and above. So, they are indeed 2 different messages, but they're targeting 2 different groups within the Belizean population. The way that we anticipate that they will be used will reduce the chances of any kind of confusion between the 2 messages."
"Perhaps a naive person will say, but you don't need to target 11 year old girls with a message about - with a sexualize message, it's too early. How do you respond to that?"
"Actually the statistics that we have - and we try to ensure that all of our messaging is evidence based - the statistics that we have from the Ministry of Health in - not from the HIV statistic but the statistics from sexual and reproductive health, indicates that we have a terrible problem in Belize right now with teenage pregnancies, unwanted abortions, with other complications of teenage pregnancies. The actual teenage mothers are birthing at teenage years. So this tells us that we have a very sexually active adolescent population; that's one. But we also have high incidences or early sexual initiation, and that's where we have the horror stories that sometimes come out on the news of sexual abuse. Sometimes, it's actually consenting in the mind of the child. We realize the importance of starting the message earlier, but the message that we want to start earlier is not a sexualize message. It's not a message for example; promoting condom use. It's not a message promoting sexual activity in any way shape or form, but it's a message that on the contrary reflects the innocence, the youth, the celebration of life for the young girl."
The media campaign is part of a year of prevention, which is the focus for HIV Awareness in 2013. It's also in line with one of the targets under Millennium Development Goals to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.