The Botswana Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance Survey fact sheet states that nearly half the population of Botswana is below 19 years and that HIV prevalence among youth aged 10-19 years is 3.5%.
“Almost 70 per cent of youth are enrolled in primary schools. This creates a unique opportunity for health education among students to promote behaviours that reduce the risk of HIV infection and other health problems,” states the survey report; and this provides all the good reasons why a health and risk surveillance should be done among school youth. The BYRSS monitors key categories of knowledge, attitudes, health risk behaviours, including tobacco, alcohol and drug use; violence; sexual behaviour. It also monitors HIV testing and prevention, nutrition and physical activity and personal hygiene.
The survey was done by organising participation of 145 schools from the 10 Ministry of Education and Skills Development regions participated. Students aged 10 to 19 years in upper primary and secondary schools were eligible. Those who agreed to participate and had parent/guardian consent completed a self-administered survey on a personal digital assistant (PDA). Data were weighed to be representative at regional and national levels.
It was discovered that, “20.5% of students had ever had sexual intercourse. 8.1% of students had sexual intercourse in the past twelve months prior to the survey. Of those 20.5% sexually experienced students: 19,1% had sexual intercourse for the first time before the age 13 years, 55% used a condom for the first time they had sex, 39.3% had sexual intercourse in the past 12 months; 19.3% had sexual intercourse with two or more people in the past 12 months; 9.4% girls reported having been pregnant and 8.9% of boys reported having impregnated someone.”
It further indicates that 13.8% of students had ever used snuff. 18.7% had ever smoked cigarettes and 7.1% had smoked a cigarette on at least one day during the 30 days prior to the survey. 16.6% had ever had at least one drink of alcohol and 7.3% had ever used ecstasy and 5.7% had ever used sextasy.
Furthermore 40% of students reported having been picked on or bullied during the 30 days prior to the survey. 28.2% of students were involved in a physical fight and had to be treated by a doctor or nurse during the 12 months prior to the survey. 13% of sexually experienced students had been raped the first time they had sexual intercourse. 12.8% of sexually experienced students were forced to have sexual intercourse during the 12 months prior to the survey.
“79.3% of the students knew that antiretroviral drugs could reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. 73.2% of them knew that HIV could be transmitted through breastfeeding. 68.6% of students knew that a healthy looking person could be infected with HIV. 18.4 had a bad attitude towards people living with HIV/AIDS.”
Exactly 74.1% of students knew where someone could be tested for HIV in their community. 24.4% had ever been tested for HIV with 4% having tested HIV positive. 8% of them were tested for HIV during the 12 months prior to the survey. 5.4% of them had had at least one symptom of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); and 26.5% of the sexually experienced students had had at least one symptom of STIs.
The survey was sponsored by Ministry Of Education and Skills Development (MOESD) with funding from the United States Government through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).