Zambian females highly vulnerable to HIV

The National Aids Council (NAC) says young people in Zambia especially females are highly vulnerable to HIV because of their poor comprehension of HIV, gender inequality and poverty.

The NAC, in conjunction with Government in an effort to combat HIV and other related diseases would host a regional symposium in December this year.

The symposium, whose theme would be ‘‘Adolescents, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) and HIV in Africa: Time to Act. ‘‘Would interrogate evidence, research and responses on adolescent SRHR and HIV in Africa to inform programmes and interventions beyond 2015.

National organizing committee chairperson Professor KS Baboo said the regional symposium was intended to enhance greater attention and commitment to addressing adolescent SRHR and HIV issues in context of the expanding youth population on the African continent and specific vulnerabilities posed.

Prof Baboo said the conference would draw experts, policy-makers and various stakeholders to address issues comprehensively and strategically, to foster stronger responses, national and regional collaboration, high level commitment and accountability.

He said the participants would be looking to explore and promote accountability mechanisms and frameworks on adolescent SRHR and HIV in Africa and that the symposium would provide a forum for evidence based advocacy to influence policy, practice and disclosure.

Prof Baboo also said the meeting was aimed at identifying local driven solutions on adolescent SRHR and HIV that work and promote their use to foster ownership and sustainability.

“This will also engender partnerships for ASRHH and HIV with traditional, religious, private sector and other stakeholders to meet the resource requirements for effective responses.  We are planning to draw participants from Africa and Europe and other parts of the world.

‘‘This symposium is the first of its kind in trying to address adolescence, sexual reproductive and health rights and HIV in Africa as it is intended to address the youths.

“A study conducted in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique shows that adolescents from 15-19 years and those in urban areas were twice more likely to drop out of treatment compared to the younger ones and those in rural areas.

“Young people in Zambia, especially females are highly vulnerable to HIV because of poor comprehensive knowledge of HIV, gender inequality and poverty, and the related behaviours of transactional and intergenerational sex, early marriage, alcohol use, peer pressure and negative gatekeeper attitudes towards condom promotion among young people,” he stated.