Youths And HIV : All Contributions Awaited

Cameroon has registered significant progress in the drive to eradicate the HIV/AIDS pandemic with statistics indicating that the prevalence rate has dropped from 5 .7 per cent to 2.7 per cent today. The progress that puts the country in an enviable position in the Central African Sub-region has to be consolidated and efforts redoubled as the youths still have a high infection rate. 
 Information from the international organization, Africa Synergies for the Fight Against AIDS and Suffering with Cameroon’s First Lady Mrs Chantal Biya as founding President indicates that in 2022, almost 31 per cent of new HIV/AIDS infections concerned youths of between 15 to 24 years and 78 per cent of whom were young girls. The situation calls for all to put hands on deck to safe our children from the pandemic so as not only to guarantee their bright future but more importantly to have a healthy youthful population to enhance the country’s development.
The third term holidays period is the best time to form all synergies to fight against HIV/AIDS in the youths. First Lady Chantal Biya understood this since 2003. Indeed, she conceived and launched the campaign dubbed “AIDS-free Holidays.” The 21st edition of the annual nationwide awareness-raising campaign for 2023 was launched at the Yaounde headquarters of the African Synergies Against AIDS and Suffering on August 2, 2023.  The campaign that is organized on the theme, “Drugs kill and expose us to HIV/AIDS “is under the auspices of Mrs Chantal Biya. The 800 youths who are peer educators to take the campaign caravan to all the nocks and crannies of the country have equally be trained by the international organization, African Synergies. The 2023 campaign targets at least three million youths.
This is the ideal time for everyone to join hands with the First Lady to bar the way to HIV/AIDS in our community that has found the youths as the vulnerable gate way.  Parents have occupied their children with diverse holiday activities such as capacity building classes, business, farm work, learning of different trades, visits to relatives, sporting activities and other lucrative activities.  All these activities are good but ensuring the health and happiness of these children by fighting against deviant behaviours that can make them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infections is better.  With the drop in the prevalence rate of AIDS, many people no longer consider it a public health problem.  There are also parents and guardians who teach their children different ways to become genuinely successful but have forgotten sex education and how the children can guard against sexually transmissible diseases, the most dangerous of which is HIV/AIDS.
Just as parents take their children to attend holiday classes and other leisure activities, they also have to monitor the programme of the AIDS-free Holidays campaign caravan, encourage their children to be part of the campaign. They equally have to use every means to let their children do the HIV/AIDS screening test and collect the results. Knowing one’s HIV/AIDS status is good as it will determine the subsequent behaviour patterns to adopt. Youths tested negative will have to adopt more responsible lifestyles that will not expose them to infection. Those who test positive will have to adopt different lifestyles and follow up medical treatment in case they are already patients. 
Success in fighting HIV/AIDS in general and particularly in youths will depend on the way risky behaviours are targeted. This explains why the theme of this year’s AIDS-free Holidays is focused on letting the youths know the dangers of drugs that expose them to infection. As the peer educators present the negative effects of taking drugs to youths that would likely lead them to indulge in risky behaviours, parents, teachers and the civil society leaders have to join the campaign trail. They have to know an...



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