Scouts and HIV/AIDS awareness
The 1st of December is dedicated to people living with HIV. This day is an opportunity to educate the world's population about the HIV virus, and to encourage everyone, including Scouts, to engage in activities that can help infected inviduals to carry out a normal life.
A total of 34.5 million adults are HIV-positive, including 17.8 million women and 16.7 million men over the age of 15. Unfortunately, about 2.1 million children under the age of 15 are also infected. This makes up a total of 36.6 million (2016 stats) of people with HIV versus more than 50 million Scouts willing to help these individuals lead a better life, through different actions taken up around the world.
By including HIV prevention in their educational programme, a majority of National Scout Organizations are helping to achieve Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals aimed at having populations that are in good health and well-being.
‘When my father died and my mother got sick, there was no place to go… One day, my brother was approached by a Scout leader called Inguru and some boys from the Scouts. That day changed our lives… We meet once a week with the other street Scouts in Kenyata market – we put on our uniforms and we’re so proud - it’s like we’re living in another world now – thanks to the Scouts!' said Nekesa, a victim who was welcomed by the Scout family.
In the case of Jacob, a 16-year-old boy, Scouting saved his life in another way. He has always been a Scout, and Scouting has been a shelter that allowed him to forget his illness at the beginning, then fight it hand in hand with other Scouts via projects, and then as leader helping in turn young people between 9 and 12 years old, some of whom share the same situation.
‘We are making a gift to future generations in Africa – so they will live without AIDS,’ Jacob said.
There are millions of other Jacobs and Nekesas in the world who have discovered meaning in their lives because of Scouting. Despite of their situations, they continue to live with hope and to help others through Scouting.