Botswana: Parents urged to discuss HIV with children

Parents and children have been encouraged to have a heart-to-heart on issues of sexual health and HIV/AIDS as this might contribute positively to the fight against the spread of the virus in Botswana.

The District AIDS Coordinator of Tutume Sub-district, Keneilwe Mmusi, made the call at the launch of the month of prayer for HIV/AIDS on Tuesday.Mmusi said that at the moment they were desirous of doing anything possible to achieve the goal of zero new HIV infections by 2016.

She said that could be done by strengthening the approaches and strategies of winning the war against the scourge and to collectively resolve to do more of what is needed to achieve zero new infections. "Our message is, we need to take a personal responsibility to make sure all access prevention services, treatment, care and support services in order to arrive at attaining the three zeros of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths," she said.

She encouraged parents to be open to their children, discuss sexual related issues with them and break the silence to stop infections of the virus among them.Mmusi said that gone are the days when parents could not discuss sexual health issues with their children because silence has destroyed the nation over the years. She said that parents should not be shy to teach their children about HIV/AIDS.

She told parents that it is not the responsibility of teachers alone to teach children about sexual health issues and HIV/AIDS but rather a collective responsibility for them all. "I think when they can hear you talking about it, telling them the dangers of the virus, ways of preventing infection by the virus, they will realise that it is not just an education they are taught at school but rather a reality," she said.

Mmusi said that teenage pregnancy is a challenge in Botswana as most school-going females drop out of school due to pregnancy."In the last quarter about 16 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy in the Tutume Sub-District and we know that in other districts they have recorded not pleasing numbers of school dropouts. This is a concern to us because it shows that they had unprotected sex," she said. She said that usually they are impregnated not by their schoolmates but older men, something that worries them as the children are exposed to the infection of HIV/AIDS.

He said the children are attracted by wealthy men who drive expensive cars, live a good life and shower them with expensive cellphones and money."I plead with men to treat these kids like their own children. How will you feel when you see another man doing what you are do to that innocent child?" she said. Mmusi said that they could seem clever and understanding but what people should know is that they are young and confused and ignorant of anything related to sex.  She said the Botswana HIV/AIDS Impact Survey III results shows that HIV prevalence among youth aged 15 to19 years declined from 6.5 percent in 2004 to 3.7 percent in 2008. She said that they noticed slight increase in the prevalence rate among youth aged 20 to 24 years.

Mmegi Online
HIV, AIDS, sexual health, parents, children, teenage pregnancy, HIV prevalence