Eveline de Klerk
Swakopmund – First Lady Monica Geingos says African countries should explore unconventional methods to more successfully spread preventative messages, measures and programmes to adolescents regarding HIV/Aids.
Geingos said professional jargon and scientific terms might not apply or attract teenagers when they are being educated about HIV/Aids, thus teenagers should be addressed in the kind of language, style and environment they feel most comfortable with.
Geingos was speaking last week during a three-day meeting at Swakopmund on building a stronger HIV prevention movement in sub-Saharan Africa. The meeting was organised by Wilton Par in partnership with the Global Health Group and the Gilead Sciences.
The aim of the workshop was to discuss ways of expanding the reach of effective HIV/Aids prevention in sub-Saharan Africa, in line with global efforts to end the epidemic, as well as prevention scale-up, which will require expansion of existing prevention strategies and the adoption of new ones, as this is a critical time for global HIV/Aids funding.
According to Geingos, most teenagers do not open up about their experiences and life struggles when addressed formally, but can do so more easily when a socially friendly environment is created for them.
“Therefore, we must craft policies with them in mind and address them through communication platforms they are familiar with,” she said.
Geingos said there are many adolescents living with HIV/Aids, who do not know how to deal with their situation. “Therefore, we need to figure out relevant ways to communicate with them, so that we extract such delicate information from them in order to assist them,” she advised.
Geingos added that smart partnership might not always be effective and thus it is important that practitioners in the field devise strategies that allow young people to open up.
“If we don’t create such channels they will ask their peers and advise each other wrongly. Understanding young people is critical, as only then we will be able to mentor and guide them to fully understand the implications of HIV/Aids.
“Young people literally speak a different language and, therefore, we must use a different approach that includes unconventional methods to reach them,” she said.