Sunday, March 8, 2009


The target of the Boys Brigade's march against the scourge is to reach out to 100,000 young Malaysians by the end of the year.

Faced with the fact that globally one person between 15 and 24 becomes infected with HIV every 15 seconds, the brigade decided to boldly embark on its "Reachout -- Youth Against HIV/AIDS". It is the project with the Malaysian AIDS Council and the Ministry of Health.

Engaging youths in HIV/AIDS prevention activities is a big challenge. Many people, including parents and teachers, do not talk, share information or teach young people about HIV/AIDS. The brigade initiated talks on the project with the council in 2007 and launched it in April last year.

MAC was aggressively looking how they could reach out to young people and we have about 10,000 members. So far, 6,000 members are being trained to be peer educators through the Red Ribbon Award programme where each of them must reach out to 15 of their friends and family members within a certain time. Many youths have sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends without taking precaution. Youths must know safe sex to avoid being infected with the disease.

HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through high-risk behaviour like unprotected sex, the sharing of needles used to inject drugs and for tattooing. People who have sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea or bacterial vaginosis are at greater risk for getting HIV during sex with infected partners. The emphasis of the brigade's campaign is prevention because there is no cure for HIV/AIDS.

The strategic plan for 2008-2010 is to reduce vulnerability and infection among young people and create a supportive environment for HIV prevention. The AIDS Council and Health Ministry officials have trained 350 officers of the brigade on how to conduct an awareness day programme where talks, a question-and-answer session and exhibition will be held.

In some of the awareness day programmes, the brigade invited people living with HIV to give talks and some of them had staged a drama show called "Fallen Leaf" to highlight their plight and the discrimination. they suffer.