Young women continue to be at high risk of HIV

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Photo: SFH Namibia For the girls… From left, Society for Family Health programme director Isabel Mendes, Maria Kavezembi (middle) of the Otjozondjupa regional health directorate and SFH country director, Taimi Amaambo.

Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Namibian young women face a higher risk of contracting HIV/Aids than other groups of people, the Otjozondjupa regional health directorate said this week.

Data from the health ministry indicates that in 2012 about 43 percent of new infections occurred in the 14 to 24 age group. Of the new infections, 67 percent are estimated to be among young women aged 15 to 24, indicating that women and girls are the most vulnerable.

“At least 76 percent of all new infections are estimated to be among women. Why is it this way? We all know the various factors at play,” said Maria Kavezembi, who spoke at the Society for Family Health (SFH) training on positive living early this week on behalf of the Otjozondjupa regional health director.

She said the reason why young women are at high risk of HIV includes structural issues such as policies and procedures at health facilities, as well as attitudes of health providers.
“It could be due to our socio-cultural factors such as poor parenting at home and unresponsive cultural norms that we cannot explain,” said Kavezembi.

She said that while some parents are willing to help their teenage girls and young women, there is a special need for adolescents living with HIV as they need direction through this period of their life.

“There is a need to equip officials dealing with parents and adolescents living with HIV in addressing and encouraging positive living,” said Kavezembi.

Kavezembi made the remarks at one of the workshops that form part of SFH Namibia on positive parenting. Those who attended the workshop included programme officers from the SFH, community health facilitators and health providers.

The SFH Namibia country director, Taimi Amaambo, said during the opening session that the workshop was the first of its kind.

“We are tasked by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to ensure that young vulnerable girls and boys do not fall prey to unintended pregnancies, HIV infection and other behaviour that will put them off track of their goals,” said Amaambo.

That is a huge responsibility, Amaambo added.
“I therefore humbly ask that we all recommit to support young girls and adolescents and that we seriously examine our focus and scale up our intervention programmes, ensure a mix of interventions we are implementing and most importantly ensure continuous intensity of our programmes,” said Amaambo.

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