By Confidente Reporter
THE Ministry of Health and Social Services has launched the Smart Generation Campaign, which aims to increase the uptake of HIV prevention and reproductive health services by young people aged between 15 and 24.
The campaign, which is taking place under the theme ‘Smart Generation, I know my HIV status’ was launched in Windhoek’s John Pandeni Constituency on Tuesday and ends in the capital on Friday, before moving on to other regions.
The campaign will alsorun in the Otjozondjupa, Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena, Erongo, Kavango and Zambezi regions from 18 September to 13 October.
The campaign seeks to offer friendly, targeted HIV testing services to young people and adolescents, effectively linking all HIV-positive young people to care and treatment, while also providing adherence counselling.
Other services to be offered include the recruitment of adolescents and young men for voluntary medical male circumcision services. The provision of HIV health education through edutainment, condoms and messages on consistent and correct condom use by young people, is also being offered.
Information on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and TB screening and referrals, will also be offered.
The ministry says that there is a need to accelerate the provision of robust HIV testing services for the age group, through targeted testing approaches, following a 2012 HIV data survey that showed that about 43 percent of new infections occurred in the 15 to 24 age group, with women and girls being the most vulnerable.
John Pandeni Constituency Councillor, Rachel Jacob, in a speech read on her behalf by the constituency’s head of administration, Petrus Ashipala, encouraged young people to know their status and that of their partners.
“This is a campaign where young people will be tested for HIV, as it was observed by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and other development partners, such UNAIDS and UNICEF, that the HIV testing coverage amongst young people in the country is lower than what is expected. In 2013, the HIV uptake coverage amongst young women was as low as 13.9 percent and only 28.5 percent of young men between the ages of 19 and 24 years were tested for HIV,” Jacob said.
The campaign will also feature other activities, such as edutainment by local artists, free Wi-Fi for young people, as well as promotional materials and quizzes.
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