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Tuesday, 31 August, 1999, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Aids conference targets young men
Crowds in Surat
India has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in South Asia
By Aasiya Lodhi in Delhi

A four-day conference on sexual health among adolescent boys in India has begun in Delhi.

Almost a quarter of Indian people are aged between the ages of 10 and 19 - and recent surveys predict this figure will surge in the next millennium.

The Centre for Development and Population Activities says its crucial to target this age group - and in particular, young men - to stem growing HIV infection rates, as well as to tackle a wider gender inequality.

High HIV rates

India has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in South Asia - and nearly half of all new HIV cases occur amongst its adolescent population.

One out of five adolescent boys in India is still illiterate, and recent studies show that a high proportion remain largely ignorant or misinformed about sexual health matters.

The four-day conference, which is being supported by the United Nations Population Fund, brings together both government and independent agencies from across the country, as well as a number of adolescent boys from different social backgrounds.

US model proposed

The organisers say they are adapting a model originally developed in the United States to bring about a frank discussion on sexuality, gender roles, and birth control.

Young men are also being encouraged to talk about the social pressures exerted on them - especially in the face of growing unemployment and changing social norms.

A draft resolution will be drawn up at the end of the conference, which organisers hope will raise a wider awareness of the importance of young men to India's social progress.

See also:

15 Jan 99 | Science/Nature
15 Jan 99 | South Asia
08 Jul 99 | South Asia
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