GIS - 02 December, 2013: Although we are in the Information Age with advanced technological gadgets, some adolescents still lack access to adequate information to enable them to make informed choices. It is a matter of concern that some young people still remain uninformed about their sexual and reproductive health, including sexually transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS.
The Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Mr Lormus Bundhoo, made this statement yesterday at the opening of a one-day screening programme at the Basketball playground, Batterie Cassée, Roche Bois in the context of the World Aids Day 2013.
This year the focus of the World Aids Day is on adolescents of the second decade of life that is 10-19 years who, by nature of their development, are most vulnerable during this period of their life. The global theme for 2013 is “Getting to Zero - HIV Adolescence”. For the period 2011 – 2015, the World AIDS campaign has selected the slogan “Getting to Zero”.
In his address the Minister pointed out that violence and negative peer role models are associated with risky behaviours leading to unwanted pregnancy, chronic substance abuse and HIV infection. Injecting drug use leads to crime or prostitution to finance the drug habit, he said.
Speaking about behaviour change, Mr Bundhoo stated that it is the cornerstone of HIV prevention. “The majority of premature adult deaths are linked to smoking, sniffing, alcohol intake and risky sexual behaviour begin in adolescence. It is known that the earlier a young person participates in such behaviors, the more negative the outcomes”, he said.
The Minister outlined that targeting young people represents a window of opportunity for reversing HIV rates. There is growing and optimistic evidence that preventive measures, when started earlier, have succeeded in reducing the epidemic in some countries, for example, in Uganda and Zambia, where teens and young adults have been key to reducing HIV infection rates through the adoption of more responsible behaviours.
As regards measures put in place for AIDS prevention of youth, Mr Bundhoo recalled that a series of activities is carried out in prevocational schools, secondary schools, Rehabilitation and Correctional Youth centres, youngsters in shelters, in Youth centres and Community centres.
Other measures include: peer group training programme to better equip the youth who are engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS; awareness sessions on HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases for students of secondary schools and Forum debates on HIV and AIDS in secondary schools. Secondary school teachers and administrative staff are trained and they, in turn, hold information sessions for the students. In addition to distribution of HIV and AIDS pamphlets to students of secondary schools, talks on family life education and HIV and AIDS are held. To engage the youth in the awareness campaign, a bicycle caravan is scheduled during which pamphlets will be distributed in the community.
Facts and Figures on HIV/AIDS
Statistics on HIV/AIDS published by UNAIDS show that as at end of 2012 around 35 million persons had contracted the virus, among whom 1.3 million were children. Another 25 million people have died of AIDS and 2.3 million people were newly infected in 2012 only. An estimated 2.1 million adolescents (10–19 years) were living with HIV/AIDS in 2012 in low and middle-income countries.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Mauritius is 1.02% in the population aged 15 years and above. From the first HIV/AIDS case registered in Mauritius in 1987, up to September 2013 there were 5 696 notified cases among Mauritians out of whom 710 have died. According to latest statistics, young people of age between 15 to 24 years represents 18, 6% of the detected cases.
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