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Doctor Challenges Wellington Students on HIV/AIDS

Doctor to Challenge Wellington students re HIV/AIDS

This year's 40 Hour Famine speaker, Dr Hector Jalipa, says customs and cultural practices that promote a cycle of death and illness, must be challenged if the world is to halt the devastating AIDS pandemic.

"We must support cultural beliefs and conditions that encourage healthy sexuality, and fight those that leave women vulnerable to sexual exploitation and men trapped in potentially lethal definitions of masculinity."

Dr Jalipa is arriving in Wellington tomorrow evening (Wednesday 9 March) from Kenya to speak to school and university students in the lead up to this year's 40 Hour Famine (18 – 20 March). Dr Jalipa's itinerary in Wellington:

Thursday 10 March:

8.50am: Paraparaumu College, Year 11

10am: Wellington College (top Famine Fundraiser last year), whole school Assembly

1- 2pm: Victoria University Development Studies Class

Friday 11 March:

8.50am: Paraparaumu College, Year 10

10.25am: Wellington Girls' College Senior Assembly

11.30am: Rongotai Boys' College, full school assembly

12.30 – 1.30pm: Wellington College 40 Hour Runathon, Basin Reserve

2.15pm: Johnsonville School Senior School special assembly

The theme for this year's Famine is Children in Crisis, with much of the emphasis on children who are affected by HIV/AIDS in developing countries. In Africa alone there are 14 million orphans because of AIDS, projected to be 18 million orphans by 2010. Dr Jalipa says there are probably double that amount of vulnerable children because of the pandemic.

"My heart aches when I see talents wasted because of HIV. My first experience with the disease was meeting this very bright boy in Uganda taking care of his two younger siblings. He was only 17 and already forced to be a father to them. His yearnings to go to school pained me because I never had that experience. To me school and education was a gift and a default while for him it was almost an unreachable goal. I could not imagine myself not being able to go to school."

And it is to senior school and tertiary students throughout the country that Dr Jalipa will be taking his message about HIV/AIDS over the next fortnight, as schools gear up for the 40 Hour Famine.

"My work is to challenge individuals, systems, societies and cultures to look at themselves in the mirror and decide if they want to move into the next generation. This is an enormous challenge because man by nature is stubborn," he says.

Dr Jalipa, a Filippino, is well qualified to speak on preventing HIV/AIDS, with a medical background and postgraduate degree from Harvard University's School of Public Health on Health Policy and Management. His current position is Africa Regional HIV/AIDS Advisor for World Vision. He provides leadership for HIV/AIDS intiatives, concentrating on strategic development and advocacy, and programme development. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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