It has been established that for youth aged 18 to 24, one out of every ten lives with HIV. To explain this, many people carried out research, all of them focused on different aspects of daily societal occurrences. Research and studies have also been done to establish factors responsible for such statistics. It is on record that societal perception profoundly determines the efficiency of prevention strategies. A vast majority of the populace living with HIV has not disclosed news of their status to their close friends and family. Some have masqueraded as patients of tuberculosis, gout, and other illnesses the society views as ‘normal’ illnesses. Campbell, Foulis, Maimane & Sibiya (2008) raise several issues in their paper, which are highlighted below.
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Children admit they are sexually active but do not use any form of protection. Most of them attribute this to curiosity. Some of them believe engaging in unprotected sex, as their parents do is an indication of maturity. It is saddening that most of the youth view sex education negatively since their elders have socialized them to view it as a curse. They cannot confide in their elders for fear of being branded licentious. Infected youngsters cannot open up to their parents for fear of reproach.
Female youth who hail from impoverished backgrounds often engage in risky sexual encounters. They have little power over their clients, hence their inability to insist on condoms. Others get pregnant to guarantee themselves financial support or to tie down men they love, thereby exposing themselves to risks.
For fear of ruinous publicity, few organizations and churches are participating in the fight against HIV. Some parents chastise their children for associating themselves with AIDS awareness programs. Church ministers referred to anti-AIDS literature as pornography (Campbell et al., 474). This hostile environment makes it tough for societies interested in undertaking awareness programs to operate.
I agree with the observation that societies greatly affect the way information on sex and HIV/Aids is perceived. In Kenya, for example, there are Voluntary Counseling and Testing centers (VCT) that offer free HIV/AIDS testing for all. Records show that more men visit this facility as compared to women. The centers are associated with prostitutes, not married or single women. Further study revealed that married women were not in any position to negotiate for protection during sex for fear of being branded rebellious by their husbands (Taegtmeyer, Kilonzo, Mung’ala, Morgan & Theobald 307).
In Zimbabwe, political instability has limited the NGOs that provide specialized attention to HIV/AIDS patients. A large majority of respondents reported that social stigmatization deterred them from utilizing the facilities. Another factor that came up was the absence of condoms and antiretroviral therapy for the infected. Instances of new infections could not be reduced due to lack of condoms (Sherra, Lopmanb, Kakowac, Dubeb, Chawirac, Nyamukapab, Oberzaucherd, Creminb & Gregsonb, 851).
This paper is silent on the risk sex workers pose to youths in our communities. They constitute a vital part of the study since they have a direct impact on the infection and transmission rate of the disease because they have multiple sex partners. In Brazil, the national prevalence rate is a meager 0.7% among grown-ups. Estimates show that six out of every ten sex workers are infected. It was wrong to ignore this segment, since they may have affected the findings of their study, hence their conclusion and recommendations (Sherra et al., 853).
Youth’ engaging in drug and substance abuse is another focus group they failed to explore. Addicts share needles, blades, and other paraphernalia that are used when abusing the drugs, thus exposing themselves to the threat of infection.
Summarily, it is evident in the fight against AIDS that one strategy alone always ends up being ineffective. There is the need to employ strategies that focus on different aspects promoting the spread of the virus simultaneously. NGOs and other organizations fighting the virus should request substantial financial aid from governments and well-wishers to facilitate their activities. Governments should support them by giving financial assistance and implementing policies that make it easier for them to perform their duties (Evans & Lambert, 27).
It is noteworthy that most of the points raised above are characteristic of the rural setting, where there are high illiteracy and awareness levels. Changing their perception to and subsequent reception of this message should be prioritized. They should be socialized to appreciate that HIV/AIDS is no longer taboo, rather it is existent (Campbell et al., 474). All in all, target groups should be considered carefully when formulating anti-Aids literature, by carefully presenting the message to make it acceptable to the people.
Campbell, C. Foulis, C. Maimane, S. and Sibiya, Z. The impact of social environments on the effectiveness of youth HIV prevention: A South African case study. AIDS Care. (2008) 17(4), 471 – 478.
Evans, Catrin. and Lambert, Helen. Culture, Health & Sexuality: The limits of behavior change theory: Condom use and contexts of HIV risk in the Kolkata sex industry. 2008 10: 1, 27 — 41.
Sherr, Lorraine. Lopmanb, Ben. Kakowa, Memory. Dube, Sabada. Chawira, Godwin. Nyamukapa, Constance. Oberzaucher, Nicole. Cremin, Ide and Gregson, Simon. Voluntary counseling and testing: uptake, impact on sexual behavior, and HIV incidence in a rural Zimbabwean cohort. 2007 Vol 21 No 7 851.
Taegtmeyer, M. Kilonzo, N. Mung’ala, L. Morgan G & Theobald, S. Using gender analysis to build voluntary counseling and testing responses in Kenya. 2005 100, 305 – 311.