Francistown — It is high time learners are at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS because they are the ones mostly affected and infected, says First Lady Neo Masisi.
Ms Masisi, who is on a countrywide tour engaging young people on HIV/AIDS, was addressing Mater Spei College and Francistown Senior Secondary School learners recently.
She said studies indicated that new infections were more prevalent among the youth than in adults.
She described the situation as challenging given that young people were the leaders of tomorrow.
Ms Masisi further informed the learners that Botswana had the third highest HIV infection rate after Lesotho and eSwatini whilst Francistown was second after Selebi Phikwe with 29.9 per cent.
The first lady told learners to endeavour to leave behind a legacy by living a life free of HIV/AIDS infection and advised them to engage each other about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
Noting that sex education was a challenge for Botswana youth, Ms Masisi said learners needed to speak more about prevention rather than birth control methods.
She also cautioned them on the use of social media as it had much impact in their lives.
"You need to be more informed about the issue of sexual intercourse before engaging in it and also to have peer talks," she said. Ms Masisi warned learners to stay away from sex because it would ruin their lives.
She advised them to preserve themselves for the future and to take their studies seriously.
Mater Spei acting school head, Ms Bowelo Keseane said this year the school registered five drop outs due to pregnancy and three deserters.
Last year the school lost two pupils due to pregnancy while three deserted, she said.
Francistown Senior Secondary School Head, Mr Safania Tabona said the school had engaged learners in its management and governance.
He said eight pupils had dropped out due to pregnancy while one had deserted.
Sexual reproductive health coordinator for greater Francistown, Ms Ponah Setshego said it was up to pupils to choose between engaging in sex and concentrating on their studies.
She said sexual intercourse required a lot more as it was about the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing thereby requiring one to be ready for it.
The First Lady is working with the National AIDS and Health Promotional Agency (NAHPA) to drive adolescent and young people's agenda.
She is also a member of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS for Development, whose mandate is to support HIV prevention, treatment and care support programmes for young people.
She has been appointed UNAIDS special ambassador on the empowerment and engagement of AYP in Botswana.
As part of her mandate, Ms Masisi has embarked on a nationwide tour engaging learners on HIV/AIDS related issues as well as encouraging them to focus on their education.
Source : BOPA