By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI There is a satisfying trend with regard to active participation by young men in meetings on adolescent and sexual reproductive health aimed at combating the spread of the HIV/Aids pandemic. The Manager of the People’s Health Project (PHP), Joseph Ashipala, in an interview with New Era expressed this view recently. The PHP is a youth-initiated project which conducts educational meetings with the youth on socio-economic development including health matters such as HIV/Aids, cleaning up of degraded environments, and others. On adolescent and sexual reproductive health, the PHP has so far conducted three workshops since 2004. Ashipala says the attendance rate shows a positive trend among young men’s participation. Unlike in the past, female adolescents mostly attended such meetings. “We normally call the youth together to share information on how to protect themselves against sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/Aids. It is therefore very important for men to attend because they have the power and influence when it comes to sexual activities,” said Ashipala. During the week-long (September 24-29) UNFPA-sponsored sensitization workshop at Oshiko outside Ongwediva, various issues were discussed by the youngsters, among these anatomy and physiology, male and female sexual organs, rape, self-esteem and decision-making, sexuality through lifestyles, child maintenance, domestic violence, love, sex and relationships, partner communication, conflict resolution, abstinence, faithfulness and condom use, how to use anti-retriviral drugs. Young people attended the workshop from various constituencies in Oshana region. It was addressed by, among others, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Safety and Security, Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Yelula Project and Unam. Officially opening the workshop, the Councillor for Ongwediva constituency, Silverius Ekandjo, urged the youth to emulate the culture and traditions of their foreparents which considered sexual relationships taboo until marriage. “I should frankly state that the mushrooming of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in our country is due to the immoral behaviour in irresponsible sexual intercourse. During this process, parents are dying from the HIV/Aids pandemic. As a result, the government is now spending a lot of money to sustain people living with the disease as well as to care for the OVCs,” Ekandjo noted.