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HIV/AIDS Awareness to be Included in Timor-Leste School Curriculum Featured

DILI: Timorese secondary school students will be the focus of a nation-wide HIV/AIDS public awareness campaign, amid concern over escalation of new cases.

 While testing for HIV/AIDS remains low across the nation, the number of positive cases has soared from less than 10 cases per year between 2003 and 2005, to seven-times higher figure from 2012 to 2014.

 The National Commission of HIV/AIDS reported that more than 600 new cases had been discovered in past 13 years, with 90 news cases identified in 2016.

 This comes amid warning from the World Health Organisation of spiralingHIV/AIDS epidemic across the Asia Pacific region as the number of people infected with the immunodeficiency virus hitting 5.1 million.

 Addressing an education conference on Wednesday in Dili, Antonino da Conceição, the Minister of Education, said awareness information would be added to school Biology curriculum. He said religious and moral teachings also had a role to play in reducing the spread of the virus.

Conceição said the first priority was boosting teacher’s capacity to educate students on how to prevent infection.

Of the reported HIV/AIDS cases in Timor-Leste, 29 percent are young people aged 15-24, 59 percent are people aged 25-44 and 9 percent were people aged 45 years and older. The remaining percentages are children aged 14 years and younger.

People with HIV live in almost all the 13 districts, but predominately in Dili, followed by Bobonaro, Kovalima-Suai on the border with Indonesia, Baucau, Oecusse, and Ermera.

The Timor-Leste government currently allocates about US $600,000 to clinics and groups dealing with treatment.

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