A two-day workshop on HIV/AIDS, drugs and alcohol use among youths, organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) is currently underway at the President's International Award Scheme in Bakau. Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Adama Njie, female representative at NYC Governing Council, said young people are more vulnerable to drugs, substance abuse and HIV/Aids.
She disclosed that UNAIDS estimated that close to 33.3 million people are living with HIV/Aids and most of them are residing in sub-Saharan Africa. She added that it is also estimated that close to one-third of all HIV infections are young people between the ages of 15-24. Njie stated that The Gambia is a drug-free nation and the government's stance against it has made an impact in its eradication. "The use of both formal and traditional mechanism to control drugs, alcohol and substance abuse is greatly desirable," she added.
Musa Mbaye, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, noted that the relationship between HIV and non-injecting drug use in the region shows a clear indication that drug users in the region are more vulnerable to HIV transmission due to unsafe sex, casual sexual relationships, and involvement in sex work resulting in sexual risk taking.
Nuha Ceesay, UNAIDS country officer, explained that during the recently concluded high-level meeting on the Universal Access in New York in June 2011, the global community under the guidance and leadership of the UN, renewed its commitment to accelerate efforts in the AIDS response by citing new bold targets. According to him, in The Gambia, close to 2700 people are living with HIV and are on life saving anti-retroviral therapy. The occasion was chaired by Marcel Mendy, executive secretary of the NYC.