"I'd never been taught about HIV and AIDS before or heard about the consequences of the disease for my life. Now I want to live safely. I want to speak to my partner about it."

This is what a 16 year old Kazakh student at a local college in Almaty wrote. The student was filling in an anonymous survey to determine the impact of the Operation Mercy HIV and Aids awareness and prevention programme run at their school.

In the survey 84% of the students had learnt about HIV and AIDS for the first time through the Operation Mercy program. They were challenged to consider their choices and to take the “good road” for a “bright future”. Many students commented that this programme had made them think. It had a positive effect in their lives and reminded them to take control of their future and their future choices. 64% of students who had been through the programme responded that even with AIDS, one can live with hope!

Although awareness may only be the first step in improving the lifestyle and well-being in these young people’s lives, it is having a positive impact which will hopefully last a life time.

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