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UPSURGE IN NEW HIV INFECTIONS WORRYING

IT has been reported that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24 in Zambia and Africa in general, and second-leading source globally.

Young women are said to be twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men because the youth bulge in Africa threatens to increase new HIV infections further.

Unprotected sex is the most common route of HIV infection among young people while low HIV and sexual health knowledge is also a key barricade to reducing HIV infections among the youths.

It is also a point that numerous and intersecting forms of discernment and structural inequality affect the lives of young people and increase their vulnerability to HIV.

There is no denying our young women are up to eight times more vulnerable to HIV than young men and this calls for serious devotion by concerned authorities and stakeholders.

Perhaps the starting point should be attending to the vulnerability of HIV transmission via unprotected sex among our youths today who roam streets and beer halls looking for pleasure and to pass time.

For some, HIV infection is a result of not having the correct knowledge about the disease and how to prevent it, while others it is the result of being forced to have unprotected sex.

From our small town of Mazabuka, South Province comes a dreadful report of increased HIV/AIDS infection and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Shaken district health director Dr. Stephan Shajanika says that the HIV/AIDS infection rate has increased to 1, 088 in 2019 from 790 recorded in the second quarter of 2018. 

He says that the district had also recorded an increase in the people going for HIV/AIDS tests from 27, 796 in 2018 to 40, 568 people in the second quarter of 2019.

Dr Shajanika has further revealed that 115, 528 people tested for HIV/AIDS and 3, 052 people tested positive in 2018 alone a situation he says is worrying.

As a result, 38, 000 people or more are presently HIV positive while 19, 598 are receiving treatment.

In 2018, the prevalence rate for Southern Province stood at 14.5 percent with Livingstone and Mazabuka having the highest rates.

It would therefore appear that condom use among young people and adolescents in Mazabuka remains relatively low.

There are also some health indications that intergenerational sex (when young people have sexual relationships with older people) is thought to be an important driver of the HIV epidemic.

It is believed that older partners are more likely to be living with HIV, therefore risking exposure to young people, and are more likely to expose a young person to unsafe sexual behaviors such as low condom use.

What is happening in Mazabuka could be true in many parts of Zambia and the situation needs to be taken seriously as gains scored in the fight against the epidemic in the last few years could simply be washed down the drains. Our appeal to government is that it should consider a ‘life-cycle’ approach to HIV prevention which can help respond to the changing challenges people face at

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