Western Province HIV/AIDS Coordination Advisor Yaliwe Nalishebo has expressed sadness over the high number of youths patronising bars and night clubs in Mongu district.
Mrs. Nalishebo, who was commenting on the recently held health indaba in Senanga, noted that the tendency by youths to patronize night clubs was posing a challenge to the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic which she said had already reached alarming levels in the province.
She said even though the Baroste chiefs had agreed to be supplementing government’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic by making sure that the youths do not patronize bars and night clubs, parents and guardians were also responsible to monitor their children’s movements.
“The challenge is so huge that it cannot be left to our chiefs alone. Everyone needs to get involved including the parents,” she said.
She noted that the youths as young as 15 years old were patronising night clubs instead of being in school adding that the trend had now become rampant.
“Some school going children are in the habit of patronizing night clubs and some night club owners do nothing about it,” Mrs. Nalishebo added.
Mrs. Nalishebo stated however that government was not sitting idle in as far as reducing HIV infections was concerned in the region.
She revealed that the Ministry of Health was currently carrying out sensitization campaigns on behavioural change targeting the youths aged between 15 and 25 since they were the most affected age group in terms of HIV and AIDS in the province.
Mrs. Nalishebo stated that government had realized that young people were at high risk of contracting HIV hence it has come up with deliberate programmes aimed at discouraging young people from engaging in illicit sexual activities.
She also said currently, government’s focus was to have no HIV infection in the country through promotion of positive living among those affected and to encourage them to adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ART) and behaviour change campaigns.
“As you may be aware, it takes time for people to change their attitude. This is the more reason why government through the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders are seriously carrying-out sentisation campaigns to scale-up HIV and AIDS prevention,” she explained.
The Western Province HIV/AIDS Coordination Advisor further revealed that sometime last year, the province held a regional Indaba where all key players attended.
Mrs. Nalishebo said the objective was to achieve a multi-sectoral response towards the provision of comprehensive and sustainable HIV prevention, care, support, and treatment services in the province.
The main drivers of HIV and AIDS in Western Province include multiple sexual partners and concurrent partners which are prominent among adolescents.
According to the 2017 HIV and AIDS Provincial Health Progress Report, the HIV prevalence had risen from 15.2 in 2007 to 16.1 percent two years ago.