Iringa, Tanzania — Youth Week marks an important holiday in this East African country, when youth gather for sports, music, drama, and writing competitions. In the last two years, a new theme has dominated the festivals – HIV prevention with an emphasis on abstinence and faithfulness.
At the celebration in the Iringa municipality of Tanzania in October 2004, more than 1,000 participants, 40 chosen from each of 32 primary schools, wore t-shirts with messages on them such as, “Praise work, exercise and studies, NOT SEX.” Educational messages on abstinence and faithfulness to sexual partners were integrated into the competitions with quizzes, question and answer games, and other activities. Similar events took place at the October 2005 Youth Week celebrations in the Kinondoni District of Dar es Salaam and the town of Singida.The celebrations commemorate the death of the founder of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, who regarded youth as holding great promise for the future of the country.
Family Health International (FHI), through the YouthNet and Ishi projects, has helped lead the Youth Week celebrations.
FHI has focused on providing materials with messages about abstinence and faithfulness that resonate with young people. Most messages about HIV prevention had previously focused on condom use. The FHI work during Youth Week is supported with funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development/Tanzania.