Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The vicious cycle of youth unemployment and HIV/AIDS

The young adult years can be risky, and a new survey suggests they may be especially risky for unemployed female graduates in Botswana.

A Research paper  by Refilwe Sikamba and Tendani Moseki Lowani entitled  Youth unemployment and HIV and Aids: Insights from the 2013 Botswana AIDS impact survey revealed that for youth under 30 years old, “being HIV positive is associated with the likelihood of being unemployed.” The research found that among the 20-24 age group, 64, and 8% of unemployed youths were HIV positive and only 35.2 employed youths were HIV positive.

It is no coincidence that most unemployed young adults are HIV positive. The research found that, “Botswana has a large number of unemployed youth who are skilled but idle, and according to the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey IV (BAIS IV, 2013), unemployment may lead to risky sexual behaviours when young people search for the means to survive the harsh economic circumstances. BAIS IV estimated that the overall youth unemployment rate is at 26.2% with females having an unemployment rate of 31.2% higher than that of their male counterparts who are at 21.9%.  The Botswana Core Welfare Indicator Survey (BCWIS, 2010), found that unemployment is largely focused among youths aged 18-34 who are exposed to higher risks of HIV infection, this is because, many of them complete their BGCSE at 18 years and if they perform poorly it is almost impossible to go to tertiary institutions or find employment whereas those who have excelled make it to tertiary institutions and graduate after four years. Furthermore, with the job market already invaded by unemployed graduates it becomes harder for those with BGSCE to find employments the unemployed graduates are already competing for the limited employment opportunities available.”

Botswana’s unemployment problem is largely a youth unemployment problem with as much as half of the country’s youth roaming the streets without jobs.

It further emerged that, “young people in Botswana face significant challenges in finding decent work, a lot of them end up in poor quality jobs and get paid poorly because they settle for any kind of employment as they are desperate for any means to feed their families. The economic and social effects of unemployment, under-employment and low quality jobs continues to grow as many young people face challenges in the labour market, they take up jobs below their qualifications and even work dangerous and/or illegal jobs leading to risky behaviours and  making them susceptible to HIV infections.  In the same vein, youth living with HIV or affected by the epidemic encounter challenges in accessing employment because of the stigma and discrimination in the society and the industry. In addition, youth who are employed may face the challenge that they may fall ill and lose their jobs leaving them unemployed. The stigma and discrimination many youth face makes it harder for them to find work keep a job and be productive.”

It has been established that, to this day a lot of young people still don’t know how HIV is transmitted nor do they know how to protect themselves from the infection, a lot of them go by what they think they know which ultimately lands them in trouble. Two thirds of young people in Botswana believe they can tell if someone is infected with the virus just by looking at them, this false impression is dangerous in a country where one in three of their potential sexual partners are infected with the virus. A lot of young people in Botswana tend to engage in risky sexual behaviours even with the knowledge they have about HIV/AIDS. Alcohol abuse has been recognized as the major factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS, with youth becoming increasingly vulnerable because of excessive alcohol consumption, this in turn leads to irresponsible and uninhibited sexual behaviours that put them at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

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