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Cult Health Sex. 2006 Jul-Aug;8(4):303-15.

Inclusion of AIDS educational messages in rites of passage ceremonies: reaching young people in tribal communities.

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Global Health Division, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The impact of HIV on tribal populations has received little attention. Often living in remote areas, further isolated by language, tradition and endogamous marriage patters, members of such communities have been assumed to be at lower risk for HIV. However, there is growing awareness that tribal peoples are sometimes at considerable risk for HIV, as well as other sexually transmitted infections. Young people in such communities may be particularly vulnerable. Traditional practices may forbid discussion of sex at the same time as increasing exposure to outside influences bring new attitudes and expectations about sex and sexuality. Concerned about the implications of the HIV epidemic on tribal populations, a review was conducted of available data on the HIV epidemic within tribal groups. Based on findings from this review, we propose a largely unexplored avenue for reaching tribal populations: namely, the incorporation of the HIV and AIDS related messages into traditional coming of age ceremonies. Such an intervention however can be one component of a comprehensive approach to reaching these often hard-to-reach populations but it may be an especially effective way to reach young people within these communities.

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