FRANCISTOWN: Tatitown Customary Court president Margaret Mosojane has said HIV/AIDS may wipe out the youth if nothing is done to control its spread.
Speaking at the commemoration of the Month of Youth Against AIDS at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Donga camp over the weekend, Mosojane said a large number of young men, women and children are affected by the epidemic. "There can be no doubt that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a threat to the economic, social and political stability of any country," she said.
She added that there are many risk factors associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS among youth. She said competitive lifestyles tend to lead some young individuals to resort to risky behaviours in an endeavour to earn a living and fight poverty. "They abuse alcohol, engage in commercial sex and many a risky behaviour," she said.
She stated that unless the tide of new infections is stopped and reversed, the youth are in grave danger of extinction. "This is evidenced by the increased morbidity and mortality rates," she said.
Mosojane stated that HIV/AIDS has seriously affected the productive and reproductive ages in the population. She said the preliminary impact Survey II Results of 2004 show that in Botswana, HIV/AIDS prevalence among young people of 10-14 years was 3.9%, 15-19 years was 6.5%, 20-24 years was 19% and 25-29 years was 33%. These results were compared to those of 2009, which show that HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 3.5% for the 10-14 year-olds, 3.7% for the 15-19 year- olds, 12.3 percent for a 20-24 year-olds and 25.9 percent for a 25-29 year-olds.
Mosojane said that although there has been a significant decline of HIV prevalence among the youth, more concerted efforts are needed to prevent new infections. She called on the youth to heed the theme of the celebrations: "Young, Gifted and Inspired (Monana yo o Maikarabelo)" saying it aims at motivating young people to dream beyond their current life challenges and obstacles to make the right choices and decisions that will shape their future positively.
She added that the them recognises and appreciates young people's talents and abilities, which need to be harnessed and nurtured so that they contribute meaningfully in the national development agenda. "The theme challenges young people to be accountable and take responsibility for their actions," she said.
Mosojane advised young people to take pride in abstaining from sex until marriage as this will curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and related health complications. "The control of HIV/AIDS incidence lies with you. Each one of you can make a difference. We need to save the youth of this country and I urge all of you young people to save yourselves from this dreadful disease. Let us all test ourselves regularly so that we know our HIV status," she stressed.