Thursday, April 22, 2021

The dilemma of unemployment and HIV

The citizenry spoke through the ballot and the ball is now on the politicians’ and, perhaps economists’ court on the plight of the electorates. Everyone who had access to manifestos or diatribes at political rallies can testify that the unemployment situation in the country was one of the loudest issues the politicians promised to deal with once voted.

That unemployment and HIV have a meeting point that cannot be overemphasised. Documents by the government departments like Statistics Botswana have proving documents to that effect. The latest document-2013 (BAIS IV) indicates that; “The 2013 unemployment rate among population aged 18 years and above was estimated at 19.8 percent. The unemployment rate for persons aged 15 years and above was estimated at 20 percent. The unemployment was largely concentrated among the youths of age group of 18 to 34. Although this is higher than the rate of 17.9 percent in the 2009/10 Botswana Core Welfare Indicator Survey (BCWIS) unemployment tends to be higher from January to May in which the BAIS IV survey was conducted.”

“HIV prevalence rate was lowest in the 1.5-4 years at 1.2 percent and was 2.2 percent in the same age group in BAIS III (2008). The prevalence rate is highest in the 35-39 age group at 43.8 percent in 2013, and 40.5 per cent in the same age group in 2008 (BAIS III), indicating an increase in the prevalence rate. Further comparison, shows a gradual decline in the prevalence rate from the age of 40 years to 65 years and beyond.” A lot of risks are involved and collaboration of citizenry and politicians is a must.

The report also highlights some burning issues. For instance, it states that, “Early sexual debut was found to be 4.4 percent for men and women aged 15-24 who had sexual intercourse before the age of 15 years compared to BAIS III in which it was 4 percent.”

The percentage for both sexes aged 15-49 who had multiple concurrent sexual partners in the last 12 months was found to be 15.8 percent. Amongst the same population 81.9 percent reported having used a condom during the last sexual intercourse.

Overall, 65.2 per cent of population aged 15-24 said they always use a condom with a non-marital or non-regular partner. An almost the same proportion (66.4 per cent) of people who were HIV negative reported using a condom with a non-regular partner. This proportion drops to 57.2 per cent among population aged 15-24 who were HIV positive. The percentages are much lower among the population age 25 to 64. Among this age group, only 30 per cent of those who are HIV negative, were reportedly using condoms consistently, while among those HIV positive, only one in three reported using condoms consistently.

Male circumcision generally increases with age, except at the age of 40-44 where there is a relative drop. The overall circumcision among male population aged 10-64 years has doubled from 11 percent in 2008 to 24.3 percent in the 2013 BAIS IV. Amongst those aged 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44 where the HIV infection is concentrated, 26.5, 30.8 and 24.1 percent respectively, were circumcised. The uptake of circumcision in males again peaks at 55-59 age groups with 39.2 percent. 68.6 percent of the circumcision was performed at a Government health facility, followed by 14.9 percent done by traditional methods and 11.9 percent at private health facilities. A small proportion of 4.6 percent did not know where they were circumcised possibly because they were circumcised while they were still young.

As they debate issues of great concern in parliament and council chambers, legislators and councilors should have these health and socio-economic issues in minds. Above anything else a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.

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