Botswana: New HIV Infections Remain a Challenge for Youth

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Mmadinare — The First Lady, Ms Neo Masisi, has urged Mmadinare Senior Secondary School pupils to stay away from sexual relationships.

Ms Masisi told Mmadinare pupils on recently that relationships came with many challenges that young people were not ready to deal with.

Such challenges included sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and teenage pregnancy.

Ms Masisi said the spread of HIV remained a challenge, which mostly affected young people.

She said 49 per cent of new infections had affected the youth aged between the ages of 15 and 24.

With 60 per cent of the country's population comprising young people, she said it was worrisome to have 49 per cent of new infections affecting the youth.

She informed them that Anti Retro-viral drugs were costly hence the call for pupils to change their behaviour and focus on education.

She implored them to avoid having relationships with older people who enticed them with money and gifts.

"These people will shutter your dreams. You are a people of high value, have self-love and care. Be kind to yourselves and focus on education," Ms Masisi said.

The First Lady also encouraged pupils to make use of guidance and counselling services at the school.

As a UN AIDS Special Ambassador for the Empowerment and Engagement of young people, Ms Masisi informed them that she loved and cared about them, hence embarking on a road show to help young people make wise decisions.

"A decision made today may impact on your future."

She said some young people used the social media platforms to insult elderly people, warning them that what they wrote on social media might impact on their future.

Therefore, she requested pupils to commit to end HIV and AIDS by 2030.

She said 2030 was near and as such called on young people to instantly change their behaviour to achive the targeted goal.

Pupils used this meeting as an opportunity to share their experiences.

Some vowed to change their behaviour.

The school head, Ms Josephine Madikwe, informed Ms Masisi that the school was grappling with teenage pregnancy, adding that 19 girls fell pregnant in 2017 whilst in 2017 and 2019 the school recorded 11 and five pregnancies respectively.

She said it was difficult for the school to investigate these pregnancies since girls did not open up to teachers.

"Due to pregnancies and other problems that girls face, girls end up missing lessons hence impacting negatively on their academic performances," she said.

Source : BOPA

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