The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) joined hands with the rest of the country to commemorate the Month of Youth Against AIDS, by holding a one day workshop for the youth on Thursday.
MTC Youth Officer Ntebogang Mokgatlhe said that by holding the workshop, the ministry wanted to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and encourage behavioral change among the youth.
She said that they are worried by the fact that even though HIV/AIDS awareness is very high in the country, behavioral change is still lagging behind.
Mokgatlhe also said that this year’s commemoration was formulated to allow dialogue between the youths and the facilitators. She said research findings show that there is no corresponding change in sexual behavior, and it is clear that the messages that are being conveyed through the media are not bringing about the expected outcome.
Mokgatlhe noted that it is important for youths to be responsible for their well being and their future, seeing that 2009 statistics show that45.4% of the age group 10 to 29 is infected with HIV/AIDS.
The Government of Botswana designated March as the month of Youth against AIDS, a month during which young people, in collaboration with various partners, hold HIV/AIDS sensitization, community mobilization and outreach and advocacy campaigns throughout the country.
The theme for the MYYA campaign “YOUNG, GIFTED AND INSPIRED” is intended to inspire young people to dream beyond their current life realities, challenges and daily obstacles, and in so doing make decisions that will shape their future in a positive way as well as to instill a sense of responsibility in them.
Mokgatlhe said that most of the youths are infected as a result of unprotected sex, having multiple concurrent partners, drug and substance abuse, negative peer pressure, and intergenerational sexual relationships.
“It is a fact there would be no rampant spread of the AIDS pandemic were it not for the multiple concurrent relationships that our youths are involved in. Partner reduction has been identified by the National Operational Plan for scaling up HIV Prevention in Botswana (2008-2010) as key to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially in the case of Botswana where the epidemic is driven mainly by heterosexual transmission” she said.
Speaking at the workshop, Kagiso Morebodi the Director of Remmogo Organization said that the aim this year is to motivate young people to dream and protect their dream by making the right decisions for themselves which include abstaining from alcohol or drinking responsibly, abstaining from sex or engaging in protected sex, sticking to one partner and knowing their HIV status and that of their partners. One of the facilitators of the workshop Log Raditlhokwa said that it is high time for HIV activists and policy makers to infuse the word of God in their fight against AIDS.