I wish to refer to the article written by Florence Mutesi and published in The New Times of August 30, 2007; I have some views to share with the readers of this paper.
First of all, I would like to congratulate the New Times for the great improvements it has made with regard to news and features it publishes.
The content and quality of stories and articles run in this paper are evidently improving. As a matter of fact, the article by Florence is an excellent story that depicts the words of the people she has quoted. I do not have any comments on the content of the article and I congratulate her for this story.
However, as regards the title, I find it misleading and a source of danger because the message it conveys can lead people to risky behaviour.
Indeed, the title says that abstinence is the only possible solution against Aids. It is not correct. It is the only possible solution against the Aids only for those who can abstain from risky sex in any circumstances and can resist unfailingly.
Indeed, only one risky sexual intercourse is enough to contract an HIV infection and that is the right message to address to all, especially the youth.
The young people are more concerned than others, since we have to admit it, they can sometimes be overwhelmed by their sexual urges and emotions, and have unplanned, unprotected sex without knowing the HIV status of their sexual partner, and therefore can easily risk contracting HIV/Aids when actually a condom could have prevented them from contracting the disease.
Many young people have their first sexual intercourse without really thinking of the magnitude of their act or peer pressure or simply to imitate others with a bid to show that they are adults.
The worst thing is that numerous girls do not dare to say NO at the first sexual intercourse because they are afraid of losing their boy friend or the fiancé, even if it is against their will.
Our role as parents and health professionals is to give them a complete message, namely: Delaying sexual intercourse as long as possible, not having sex simply for the sake of having sex rather it is necessary to think about it before you let yourself in, being faithful in the case of a couple, and in case of sexual intercourse outside your couple is imperative to correctly and systematically use the condom in any risky sexual relation.
Of course this is the message to all age groups.
However, to illustrate why it should be tirelessly repeated to our youth, I would like to give some figures from the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS 2005).
This study conducted by leading scientists in the world shows that 14 per cent of the male population aged between 15 and 49 years had had risky sex in the 12 months preceding the survey and the proportion of those who had used a condom was only 41 per cent.
More alarming is that in the population of the young people aged between15 and 24 years, 48 per cent of those surveyed had had risky sex in the 12 months preceding the survey and 60 per cent among them had not used a condom.
For figures concerning the female population, 8 per cent of the whole female population aged between 15 and 49 years had had risky sex in the 12 months preceding the DHS-2005 and among them the percentage of those who used a condom is 20 per cent.
Again, very alarming is that in the population of the young girls aged between15 and 24 years, 15 per cent of those surveyed had had risky sex in the 12 months preceding the survey and 74 per cent among them had not used a condom.
Given that in 2005 more than 80 per cent of Rwandans already knew the risks of having sex with a person whose serological status is not known to them, these figures show why incomplete messages on protection against HIV and Aids should be avoided simply because people must be protected when they have risky sex, even though we must tell them that the ideal is to abstain and be faithful.
Therefore, it is important to admit that young people, even if they are given important messages, even if they understand and agree with these messages, do not always follow them.
It is therefore advisable that emphasis must be put on consistent and regular use of the condom in risky sexual relations and tirelessly repeat that the only solution against Aids is a combination of education, abstinence, faithfulness and consistent and correct use of the condom for those who cannot abstain or be faithful to their partners.
The writer is the Executive Secretary of CNLS