UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF Joint Report on HIV/AIDS Reveals the
Epidemic on Increase in Ethiopia
A joint statement issued by the UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF on the situation of youth and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia revealed that despite the continuous effort from all walks of life to curb the virus, the HIV/AIDS virus has continued to increase alarmingly among the youth in Ethiopia.
This was disclosed at the launch of the Young People and HIV/AIDS: Opportunities in Crisis, a program organized by the above mentioned UN organizations at the Addis Ababa University Faculty of Business and Economics.
Accordingly, a paper presented by Ibrahim Jabr, UNICEF Country representative and Co-chair of the UN theme group on
HIV/AIDS, stated that during every hour, 250 young persons, more girls than boys, get infected with HIV. Yet, according to
Jabr, it does not get any coverage on radio or TV, nor does it come up in emergency cabinet meetings.
Over 100 million new conventional Sexually Transmitted Infections occur every year among young people under the age of 25, said Dr. Michel Jancloes, WHO Country Representative to Ethiopia. He also noted that today, more than 50% of new infections of HIV occur among young individuals.
A study carried out among high school students to asses the prevalence of high risk sexual behavior indicated that the majority of sexually active youth had more than one partner, said Dr. Dangachew Hailemariam, Deputy Head of the National AIDS Council Secretariat on the occasion.
Stressing the lack of proper information as a major cause intensifying the spread of HIV/AIDS, Elsabet Teferra, a lady living with the virus, noted that the disease has been depicted using scary images, as something extremely frightening and repulsive.
“Too many young people have spent their dying days in anxiety and mental anguish without receiving any type of counseling or social support,” she said.
It is, therefore, urgent and timely to update mechanisms into the level of preventing the epidemic particularly among the youth, according to the joint report.
Influencing policy makers to ensure that adolescents have adequate information about HIV/AIDS, good quality education that encourages the development of analytical thinking and good attitude, establishing youth-friendly health services, creating safe and supportive environment for young people as well as attempting to reach children living in difficult circumstances were some of the suggestions forwarded by WHO.
Working with young people, according to the UNICEF, and promoting their participation, engaging those who are living with HIV/AIDS and strengthening partnerships and monitor progress are key issues that should be considered to minimize and eventually eliminate the alarming increase of the HIV/AIDS virus.