According to AIDS Accountability, “ignorance and misinformation around HIV remains a key threat to the futures of young people” in Africa. They go on to say that only “39% of young men and 28% of young women aged between 15 and 24 in Sub-Saharan Africa have comprehensive information on HIV”.
In recognition of the barriers to accessing health services and information faced by young people, SWHAP and its partners in Kenya, Zimbabwe and DRC held events targeted at this group during the World AIDS Day commemorations. In Kenya, the events were in line with the national theme “Youth Na Plan” which sought to advocate for youth awareness on issues surrounding HIV and AIDS including prevention, treatment and care. The National Aids Control Council estimates that 29 percent of all new HIV infections in Kenya are among young people and adolescents (70 percent women and 30 percent men between the ages of 15 and 19).
Following the successful community dialogue held in Ngezi in August, SWHAP partnered again with Sandvik and Zimplats, this time to stimulate discussions on HIV amongst the youth. Topics discussed during the youth dialogue included; HIV, sexual reproductive health and rights and the impact of drug and substance abuse on HIV transmission. The young people identified the following challenges to HIV prevention; lack of parental guidance, cross-generational sex, multiple concurrent partnerships and incorrect condom use. Over 300 youth from Ngezi community attended the dialogue.
Discussions at the dialogue empowered young people with information on HIV prevention strategies, and skills to resist negative peer pressure. The young people were challenged to use abstinence as the first line of defence. They were also given tips on safe dating based on respect and the ability to communicate assertively.
Ericsson in partnership with SWHAP in the DRC organised a sports day with HIV sensitisation and HIV counselling and Testing as part of World AIDS Day activities at the Protestant University of Congo – 212 students were tested and received their results.