UNAIDS and United Nations Volunteers recently held a training session for volunteers for the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games in an effort to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and prevent discrimination related to the disease, Xinhuanet reports. About 5,500 volunteers received training about awareness and discrimination, and approximately 100,000 volunteers have received an awareness package that includes information about HIV prevention and discrimination. "Many young people do not have the right information on AIDS, fueling false fears, stigma and discrimination," Bernhard Schwartlander, UNAIDS country coordinator in China, said, adding, "This is bad in itself and also hampers HIV prevention work." He said that "[e]ngaging some of China's most capable young people and making them the messengers of positive and correct knowledge on HIV can help dispel inaccurate myths and break down the stigma and discrimination against people affected by HIV."

The training session was held from June 14 to June 15 and was convened by UNAIDS and U.N. Volunteers. It was conducted in collaboration with the Beijing Communist Youth League, Marie Stopes International China and the Red Cross Society of China. People living with HIV/AIDS also attended the session as trainers, according to Xinhuanet. U.N. Development Programme China Country Director Subinay Nandy said that volunteers who participated in the training are better prepared to welcome all Olympic attendants, including HIV-positive people. Nandy added that he hopes the volunteers will continue to address development issues, including raising awareness about HIV/AIDS (Xinhuanet, 6/16).

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