News / Africa

Young Zimbabweans Demand Input in HIV Policies

Tonderai Kanyere waits for his results after he was tested for HIV and Aids in Harare, June, 22, 2012.
Tonderai Kanyere waits for his results after he was tested for HIV and Aids in Harare, June, 22, 2012.
Young people in Zimbabwe, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of HIV and AIDS, have told their government officials that the country can only meet its 2015 goal of a zero HIV infection rate if they are involved in policy making.  
 
Young Zimbabweans applaud themselves after presenting their demands to their government this week at a special strategy meeting on combating HIV/ AIDS.  

About 100 youth representatives attended the meeting and argued their input will be key.

“I need to stand for a change as a youth," says Yeukai Mutazo, 23, from the Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health HIV/AIDS, which organized the meeting. "Even if it is a national emergency, this HIV issue, we are saying anything for the youths without the youths is against the youths.”

Mutazo notes that the majority of people living with HIV in Zimbabwe are young.  More than 14 percent of Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 49 have the virus.  That is the fifth highest infection rate in the world.

In 1999, Zimbabwe became the first country in Africa to introduce a 3 percent tax on salaries to raise money for AIDS treatment and prevention programs.  But activists have complained that money is not going where it should - to the many patients still not getting access to medications needed to live with the virus.

Solutions

The activists think they can help address the problems.  Madeline Dube of Zimbabwe's National AIDS Council says she hears their call to action and will involve them to reach the country’s goal of no new HIV infections in just three years’ time.

“We decided as National AIDS Council [that] we should have representation within the organization, somebody who coordinates the work of young people in terms of HIV and AIDS," Dube says. "We now have Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health HIV/AIDS.”

Mutazo says better education in the public schools is part of the youth network's agenda.

“What we want to make noise about is the issue of a comprehensive sexuality education be included in the school curriculum in Zimbabwe," Mutazo adds. "So what we want is that people should know that their sexual and reproductive rights, as well as their health.  So when they are taught at school, they will be careful as they grow, they will be empowered  and would know how to take care of their health.”

Education

Tatiana Shoumilina, who heads the United Nations AIDS program in Zimbabwe, agrees that educating youths is crucial to fighting the spread of the disease.

“When it comes to HIV, the young people are at highest risk," she says. "They are more active, they are experimenting, they are not fully aware that they can be affected by a diseases… Sometimes this brings them to a risk of contracting HIV.”

The youth group also wants more representation on the National AIDS Council - which is the government’s policy implementation arm.

As Zimbabwe prepares to commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day on December 1 - with the slogan "Getting to Zero" - the country faces a massive task.  While the United Nations says new HIV infection rates have dropped by 50 percent in Zimbabwe, the country still has 1.2 million people living with the virus.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid