© GLOBAL Health Now (GHN) urged African countries, including Zimbabwe, to prioritise youths in HIV interventions in a bid to reduce new infections that are usually high among youths.
This comes as the Health ministry recently expressed concerns over increasing number of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV among youths who reportedly enjoy experimenting without thinking about their health.
Maureen Luba, a youth and reproductive health advocate said the future of global HIV response must be youth-focused and youth-led otherwise successes against HIV may be endangered by the rapid growth of vulnerable youth populations in the highest burden countries.
“Why should youth be central to the fight against HIV? Most healthy young people don’t consider HIV a significant risk. As a result, many do not regularly seek medical care. Recent progress in making clinics friendlier to adolescents is great but not enough to turn the tide of the HIV epidemic among the young.
“New approaches, such as after school HIV prevention interventions and widespread peer-to-peer support networks and sustainable support for youth-led community-based organisations are needed to effectively meet youth where they are with interventions they will accept,” Luba said.
Recently, the former UN coordinator Bishow Parajul said government should make huge efforts towards educating the younger generation on being responsible and taking care of themselves.
“Youths are being infected. More girls are being infected. We really need to work hard to transform this and to prevent it going forward. Sometimes when you have poverty, hunger and economic challenges, people are forced to take steps which can put them at risk of new infections. Protecting them, safeguarding them and informing them to be aware is really important,” Parajuli said.
At the same time, Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF) primary care councillor Tanyaradzwa Vino has urged stakeholders to direct their focus towards engaging men and young boys more on HIV-related issues.
“There is need to come up with specific programmes or strategies that target young boys and men. They are usually left out in most of the interventions that are implemented in HIV,” he said.