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In August UNFPA in Timor-Leste conducted peer education trainings for the 31 officers of National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) to raise awareness and share information about HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse. Each PNTL officer trained is committed to mentor at least 35 other officers and their family members during his/her field work. As a result, more than 1,000 police officers in the country will receive education on HIV and GBV.

The objective of the course was to train police officers on how to use peer education in order to increase outreach and awareness about HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI), and how to refer HIV or STI cases to health professionals for counseling and treatment.

They were also trained on how to facilitate discussions about these issues with other PNTL staff, through formal forums such as staff meetings and informal forums, for instance when PNTL officers are on patrol. This experience gives the police officers the chance to learn and educate their fellow officers about the importance of awareness about these issues.

"Peer educators share the same background, experience and values as their peers. They are usually of the same standing and rank with other personnel, so it is easier for them to approach each other" said Mr. Paulino Gonzaga, UNFPA National HIV Coordinator.

UNFPA will conduct a follow-up training for district commanders on how to support and monitor activities related to peer education for HIV. These series of trainings were supported by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM).