Botswana: HIV Prevalence Rate Not Going Down

Gaborone — The HIV prevalence rate among youth aged 15-24 years has not decreased in the past five years, thus leaving them as the most vulnerable groups.

Information, education and information (IEC) officer at NAPHA, Ms Tshiamo Mokone, said in an interview recently that Botswana remained third worldwide for new HIV infections with the ages of 15-24 being the affected and 41 per cent being females.

She attributed the new infections to low condom use, multiple concurrent partners and low parental communication.

Ms Mokone, however, raised concern over parents who still failed to discuss sexual issues with their children, adding that lack of communication from home could lead to children seeking answers from wrong people.

"Children like attention and are easily influenced. If the parent does not sit them down and guide them somebody out there will and the guidance may not be good," she said.

In addition, Ms Mokone said some children started to be sexually active at primary school. In fact, she said most youth did not have fear of contracting HIV, but rather feared pregnancy.

She, however, said they still wished the school curriculum could do more to sensitise the youth.

"Though we have an alarming rate of new infections, only a few die of AIDS because our programmes are doing well. Programmes such as SUGAR and

PMTCT have always proven to be effective," she said. Furthermore, Ms Mokone said NAPHA was looking at creating a conducive environment for a young person.

She said the community, church, kgotla, schools, clinics and different workplaces should work together in raising HIV/AIDS awareness in the life of a young person. "One of the best ways to fight stigma and empower HIV-positive people is by speaking out openly and honestly about who we are and what we are," she said.

She said emphasis was on supporting Botswana to scale up high influence involvements to reduce HIV transmission and morbidity and mortality among adolescents, as well as to reduce HIV vulnerability through cross sectoral work with education, gender equality and human rights, social protection and child protection programming.

Source : BOPA

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