Young Africans denounce the lack of inclusion in HIV / AIDS education | New times
Young people are asking for increased access to information on HIV / AIDS as well as reproductive health in order to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
They were speaking ahead of the 2019 International Conference on AIDS and STIs due to open in Kigali today, bringing together more than 8,000 people from across the continent and beyond.
The continental summit, in its 20th edition, is expected to receive speakers including leading professionals from policymakers, scientists and youth champions in the sector to share a way to tackle these epidemic concerns.
At the youth pre-conference where Musah Lumumba, a sexual and reproductive health activist, said he called on the older generation for not giving young people and adolescents adequate reproductive information, claiming that some parents and teachers continued to be reluctant to avail themselves of the information.
“There are communities so far that do not allow their young people to talk about sexual reproduction. But look, we are experiencing teenage pregnancies at younger ages. In some communities, they continue to deny them information about HIV / AIDS and sexual health. This is why adolescents should have information that would make them aware of unwanted pregnancies and HIV, ”said Musah Lumumba.
Shannon Hader, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that although unpopular, countries should also consider lowering the age of consent where it is still high to allow young people to be tested and have access to preventive measures.
“Last year Namibia and the Republic of South Africa lowered the age of consent. Tanzania also lowered the age of consent a few weeks ago. This enables young people to take responsibility for themselves and start learning about AIDS and teenage pregnancy from an early age, ”said the Executive Director of UNAIDS.
The World Health Organization has reported that 30 percent of new HIV infections, especially among young people between the ages of 15 and 25. Young people repeatedly cited the lack of information on sexual reproduction at a younger age, inadequate sex education in schools.
“Girls drop out of school because they are ashamed of being pregnant. Guess what? They had not been informed of this before. It is the parents who advise their children on how to behave during their teenage years and not to kick them out of the home after pregnancy, ”said Dr Grihab Pinna, president of Youth Peer Education.
These young people further highlighted challenges such as lack of access to contraceptives.
Rosemary Mbabazi urged young people to constantly voice their challenges and concerns in the fight against HIV / AIDS.
“It’s good to discuss things that concern our lives. HIV is becoming an epidemic for young people and is increasingly becoming an urgent problem. We have to make sure that this is avoided for the leaders of today and tomorrow, because Africa is made up of more young people than before, ”she said.
In response to the challenges, Rwanda has created anti-HIV / AIDS clubs, 28 youth centers, among other programs to raise awareness.