Call to focus on youth in fight against HIV/AIDS
Sunday 28 March 2004
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TANZANIA: Call to focus on youth in fight against HIV/AIDS

DAR ES SALAAM, 15 July (PLUSNEWS) - Radical changes in approach to the youth are needed if Tanzania is to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, an official of the international NGO Africa Medical and Relief Foundation (AMREF) told PlusNews on Friday.

The official, Michael Mochaku, a specialist on adolescent sexual reproductive health, said the government and international organisations also needed to step up their efforts to reach the majority of youth, who live in the countryside.

"We need to change the mentality of seeing youth [people aged between 10 and 24] as children," he said. "This has meant that instead of providing the youth with the information they had the right to, we are blaming them for the health problems they have."

Mochaku was speaking at an event to mark World Population Day, whose theme this year was "One billion adolescents: the right to health, information and services".

He said that what was currently being done to help adolescents was just "routine".

"There is a need for more professionalism, and for this service to be delivered with quality there needs to be more money invested," he added.

He said that while attitudes towards youth had developed in recent years, and that because of the Internet the youth now had access to more information than their parents, this was still limited to at least 15 percent of the population living in urban areas.

"There is still a parental-child gap that we need to bridge to help provide both with information to fight HIV/AIDS and other issues that adolescents have to deal with," he said. "The youth need to be given the right environment to speak about these issues."

He added that peer pressure and temptation meant that the youth could begin having sex aged 10 and, "by 14, the majority of youth are sexually active but unaware of the dangers of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS".

The UN Population Fund assistant representative in Tanzania, Christopher Mwaijonga, said the country's youth were a "forgotten population".

"Problems faced by youth today are very serious but they aren't really being considered seriously enough," he told PlusNews.

"There are many, but when it comes to sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, youth don't have sufficient access to information to make informed decisions or to access friendly services," he said.

Tanzania's minister for labour, youth development and sports, Juma Kapuya, said that the government had not made much headway in tackling the problem of HIV/AIDS among the youth because of a lack of resources.

"We are conducting a study to locate meeting points for youth so we can use them to disseminate information about HIV/AIDS," he said. "But getting this started is difficult and we need to collaborate more with donors because the problem is immense."

At the end of the celebrations, the youth forum recommended that they be given an audience with parliamentarians before the end of the current session so that they could make the leaders more aware of their complaints.

[ENDS]

Recent TANZANIA Reports

Youth airing their concerns in Tanzania, 23/Feb/04
Focus on drawing on traditional remedies to fight HIV/AIDS, 10/Nov/03
US donates $1.5m to UNICEF for refugee work, 10/Oct/03
US firm pledges support for HIV/AIDS treatment, 26/Sep/03
Churches gather to coordinate action plan against HIV/AIDS, 5/Sep/03

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making A difference for Children Affected by AIDS
Children and AIDS International Non-Government Organisation Network (CAINN)
AIDS Orphans Assistance Database

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

PARTNERS

PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS

  • IRIN

  • Inter Press Service (IPS)

  • SAfAIDS

  • PANOS

  • Health Systems Trust

  • Health & Development
    Network

  • GTZ/Afronets


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