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"Unless we small people do something," : HIV and Youth Volunteerism in Swaziland

Sara Wood, MPH, International Health Program, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, 2016 NE 65th St. Ste. C, Seattle, WA 98115, 000-000-0000, sarawood_2000@yahoo.com

This paper looks at varying perspectives on youth volunteerism around HIV prevention in Swaziland. With the highest HIV prevalence in the world, Swaziland is attracting increasing amounts of international aid, some of which is spent to fund the recruitment, training and support of volunteer youth educators. While few dispute the important role young people can play in the fight against HIV, many youth on the ground believe their voices are not heard, resulting in feelings of exploitation. Qualitative methods including individual interviews, focus groups and participant observation were used to gather information from the perspective of youth volunteers and stakeholders from organizations working with youth. Youth perspectives around such issues as the role of government, funding, volunteerism in the Swazi context and what it means to be a youth are explored. Youth participants in the study documented the realities of their lives and volunteer experiences through photovoice, a participatory research methodology using photography. Youth coded hundreds of their photos into five major themes and produced a final teaching tool with selected photos. The goal of this research is to develop recommendations for youth involved in HIV work in Swaziland and for organizations working with young people in Southern Africa.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

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Topics in HIV/AIDS I

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA