By Michael Gwarisa
MEDECINS Sans Frontieres (MSF) has partnered SafAids in the fight against drug abuse and risky sexual behavior amongst adolescents as the country strives to manage the AIDS pandemic whose prevalence in young people has been on the increase.
In an interview with HealthTimes on the sidelines of the “Young4Real, Make the Right Choices campaign” in Mbare today MSF Health Promotions Officer, Brian Hove said statistics of HIV prevalence among adolescents have been worrisome hence the need to partner SafAids on the drive.
“The objectives of this campaign is to try and accelerate issues around HIV/AIDS testing amongst adolescents. I think if you check on our statistics, in all the other age groups, our prevalence rates have improved due to increased HIV testing and access to services, however, amongst adolescents, we have not been doing very well.
“The campaign is aimed at availing or increasing access to services to adolescents particularly those withing the ages of 10 to 19. In this campaign, they can access services which include testing, access to condoms, access to contraception, for those particularly between the ages of 10 to 19,” said Hove.
Hove added that they stick by the laid down government and societal standards in their discharge of duty and the availing of condoms will mainly be granted to children aged 16 and above which is the legal age for consent.
“In terms of access, i think as a country we are doing quite well although there is still a lot that needs to be done.
“From the information within our community in particular here in Mbare, you would find that issues around risky sexual behavior is quite common. They have these pasa pasas and there is lot of adolescents that are abusing drugs, its quite rampart here in Mbare. We believe these interventions we are doing could actually lower these issues.”
He however added that the socio-economic issues were also to blame for the high risk sexual behaviors amongts adolescents due to increased unemployment and poverty.
Meanwhile, statistics gathered by the Ministry of Health and Child Care indicate that there is an increased HIV prevalence among female adolescents than their male counterparts as most young girls are engaging in sexual relations with older men or sugar daddies for money.