World AIDS Day 2009
There are approximately 33 million people living with HIV throughout the world, with the number of people infected increasing every day. Around 95% of people living with HIV/AIDS reside in developing countries.
In 1998, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared 1 December a day to commemorate World AIDS Day (WAD). Since then, it became a successful event to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS to people around the world.
The South African theme this year is: "I am responsible, We are responsible and South Africa is taking responsibility". The international theme for this year is "Universal Access and Human Rights". This theme demands that we show leadership and unity around HIV & AIDS.
The South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey conducted in 2002 helped cast light on behaviour of youth in relation to violence, substance abuse, sexual behaviour, hygiene and diet amongst other things. It unequivocally demonstrated that a number of young people, as a result of the sexual choices they make, or situations they find themselves in, are at risk in terms of their sexual health and subsequently their physical and mental health.
The South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey conducted in 2008, presented findings about teenage sexual behaviour. It reported that among teenagers aged 15-19 years, HIV prevalence declined by 3%. On the other hand, among currently sexually active teenagers aged 15-19 years; intergenerational sex has increased substantively which poses a risk to HIV infection. It is of concern that "condom use at last sex: was lowest in the Western Cape in comparison to all other provinces.
Given the prominence of the youth in responses to the HIV & AIDS epidemic, 'Youth Health Dialogues' were held in Atlantis where four high schools were involved, targeting Grade 9 and 11 learners. Government departments and non-governmental organisations that render services to the youth were invited to participate in the dialogues. The learners and the service providers then shared knowledge of what is currently available and gaps in services for the youth. All of this was aimed at ensuring that when 'youth friendly' health services are revived, they will accommodate the needs of this target group.
Today's World AIDS Day event will provide learners with an opportunity to give feedback to other young people about what happened at the dialogues. It will also provide all role players in the area with an opportunity to craft a way forward in addressing youth health issues.
Issued by the Directorate: Communications for the Western Cape Department of Health.
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