We are well into the second decade since the AIDS pandemic descended on Botswana. At a time when every family has been affected by AIDS, one will be hard pressed to find an individual who professes complete ignorance of the disease.
Botswana is among the countries hardest hit by AIDS. In 2007 there were an estimated 300,000 people living with HIV. This, in a country with a total population below 1, 7 million, gives Botswana an adult HIV prevalence rate of 24.1%, the second highest in the world after Swaziland.
AIDS is an extraordinary kind of a crisis. To stand any chance of effectively responding to the epidemic we have to treat it as both an emergency and a long-term development issue. This means resisting the temptation to accept the inevitability of AIDS as just another of the world’s many problems. Far from levelling off, rates of infection are still on the rise in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, in 2003 alone, an estimated 3 million people in the region became newly infected.
Despite this glaring reality facing them, today’s youth still engage in licentious and risky behaviour. An explanation for this could be “prevention fatigue” whereby seeing the same mass media advertisements on HIV lose the intended impact. The youth are now immune to the same messages that have been aired since they were 5! This prevention fatigue not only affects the youth but as they grow older and procreate their offspring is also affected, thus life expectancy is drastically reduced as well. (fig.2)
The UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS in
Southern Africa has found that both transactional sex and intergenerational sex have become the norm in many countries.
In Botswana, 300,000 people are living with HIV and 140,000 was the estimated number of women (ages 15-49) living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2007. Girls and young women are at greatest risk, 50% to 60% of pregnant women are affected
As of December 2003, women accounted for nearly 50% of all people living with HIV worldwide, and for 57% in sub-Saharan Africa (Fig 3.
The epidemic is also affecting young people disproportionately: 15–24-year-olds account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide; more than 6000 contract the virus every day. This trend is especially alarming because this is the largest youth generation in history. Todays
15–24-year-olds have never known a world without AIDS, Yet it is today’s young people who will be responsible for sustaining responses to the epidemic— they are tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers and decision-makers, and it is vital that they play an integral part in responding to the epidemic
The epidemic remains extremely dynamic, growing and changing character as the virus exploits new opportunities for transmission. What is needed is a fresh new approach to prevention that will bring into perspective again the true reality of the catastrophic pandemic (EFL!).
Knowledge and information are the first lines of defence for young people. Most youths have heard of AIDS and believe it to be a dangerous disease, but many have little additional knowledge. Access to AIDS information alone is no guarantee of behaviour change, but education does have an impact. AIDS education programmes are effective in decreasing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom use
HIV transmission is not a random event; the spread of the virus is profoundly influenced by the surrounding social, economic and political environment. Wherever people are struggling against adverse conditions, such as poverty, oppression, discrimination and illiteracy, they are especially vulnerable to being infected by HIV. Efforts to prevent the spread of HIV need to focus both on individual risk behaviour, and on the broad structural factors underlying exposure to HIV—so as to help people control the risks they take and thereby protect themselves.
The scourge of HIV is not only impacting on the health of the nation, it is also dealing a great blow to the economy. The young people who are the backbone of the development of the country are being rendered useless by the pandemic and this is affecting the economy tremendously. Instead of the economy growing in leaps and bounds, it is assuming a backward trend.
In a world with AIDS, many young people’s life choices easily vanish. The Young people are especially vulnerable to HIV, but they are also our greatest hope for changing the course of the AIDS epidemic. When young people are given appropriate tools and support, they can become powerful agents for change.
Nothing short of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy for young people is required.
Early sexual debut, transgenerational sex and gender disparities highlight the fact that education alone will not protect the world’s youth from infection. Access to up to date information and current prevention strategies are also required to lower HIV prevalence among young people.
The WCCC is assuring to provide high quality of comprehensive community care and support programs to train, counsel, and deliver quality care and service for the children and care givers, youth, youth inmates and ex- convicts through preaching the gospel and the strategic socio economic programming in the identified communities.
We are committed to acting now to make a positive impact on our children and youth. We are truly grateful for any assistance in achieving our goals and in enhancing awareness of youth violence, crime & substance abuse. The future of the program and activities requires sponsorship and funding to assist in its development. It is our duty to do what we can.
Please feel free to visit our website for more information about our organisation
• UNAIDS 2004 Report On The Global AIDS Epidemic
• UNAIDS 2006 Report on The Global AIDS Epidemic
• The UN Secretary-General’s Task Force Report on Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa 2004
• AIDS Africa : Continent In Crisis
• UNICEF/UNAIDS/WHO (2002): Young people and HIV/AIDS., Opportunity in crisis. New York.