HIV/AIDS: Young people in growing danger

In a report released ahead of the upcoming International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, Plan International noted that social, economic and cultural factors were preventing the youth from protecting themselves, regardless of available anti-AIDS education campaigns.

Sarah Hendriks, HIV/AIDS programme manager for Plan in Toronto, said this was because the cultural, economic and social factors relating to decisions about young people’s sexual and reproductive health had greater impact than the acquisition of knowledge itself.

“For instance, youths were told to adopt the ABC model (of abstinence, be faithful and condom use) to prevent infection. But in much of sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is rife, young girls are still forced into marriage with older men, who may have several sexual partners,” Hendriks said.

The document argued that although education for children and adolescents had improved immeasurably, there was a constant clash between the safety messages being taught and the realities that prevented young people from being able to adopt them.

The group stressed that with over two million children worldwide already living with the HI virus, the international community had to urgently find more innovative ways of addressing the issue, such as the greater involvement of young men and women in rolling out prevention, treatment and care campaigns. ‘ IRIN.

August 2006
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