Celebrating World AIDS Day: Young People First in the Response
Today SAYWHAT joins the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day, a day that has been set aside internationally to recognise the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.
This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme “Communities Make the Difference” and as SAYWHAT, we take this opportunity to celebrate the gains that have been achieved in Zimbabwe in the quest to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Particularly, we acknowledge the reduction in HIV prevalence rate, and improvement in access to treatment by people living with HIV.
We would like to re-emphasise the role that young people should play in this agenda especially through engaging in responsible sexual behaviours. SAYWHAT remains deeply concerned by the new evidence in the country which indicates that new HIV infections are on the increase among young people. As such, SAYWHAT in partnership with UNFPA is implementing the CONDOMIZE Campaign through which we continue to engage young people across the country promoting access to, and correct and consistent use of condoms as the only protective measure that offers dual protection against unintended pregnancies and STIs.
While access to treatment in the country has significantly improved, it has not been the case for students in tertiary institutions. As we celebrate World AIDS Day, we call on the government, college authorities and other duty bearers to prioritise students’ access to treatment by ensuring that college clinics across the country become Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) initiation sites. Access to treatment is a key component of the prevention strategy in the HIV response.
Young people are a priority. So is their access to services.