A very discouraging, if not shocking¬, survey by the National Aids Control Commission (CNLS) shows that only 10% of sexually active young men and women use any form of protection against HIV/Aids infection.
This is very outrageous indeed at a time when the country is not only winning accolades in the fight against HIV/Aids, but also using the latest technology in doing so.
Just the other day, one of the national Aids treatment and research centres (TRAC) went home with the highest honours at an ICT awards ceremony in South Africa.
TRAC uses mobile phones to keep up-to-date data from the field using short messages (SMS). The service known as TRACnet has revolutionised data collecting and information sharing countrywide.
Today’s youth are more informed than their forbearers and therefore there is no excuse when they indulge in unprotected sex ‘knowingly’.
It is also well known that they are more malleable when it comes to embracing new technologies therefore the advance in ICT should be an advantage in trying to change their reckless behaviour.
The figures for the last two decades show that Aids prevalence has dropped drastically but the ratio of infections in urban areas remain more than double that in the rural areas.
Shouldn’t these new figures from the survey be an eye opener for anti-aids agencies that they may be losing the fight in their own backyards and therefore need to change tactics?
The anti-Aids campaigns have in the past been very ‘boring’ to our sophisticated metro-zens (city dwellers) because they tend to target rural dwellers while the ‘sophisticated’ young Kigalians are left to their own devices.
Youth in the cities have in most cases shown disdain to the ‘lectures’ and adding fuel to the fire, popular Hip-Hop culture has not helped.
Their role models are either gun totting, rapping goons from the streets of Los Angeles or some half-naked twits who have been dubbed ‘Bootylicious’.
Aids agencies have no chance in competing for airtime with the western hype of popular culture and it is time they switched to home-made remedies.
Availability of Antiretro-virals, or the latest circumcision lifeline is not enough, if anything, they might even be cause for worry since the youth can easily be attracted to the idea of invincibility.
It is time the battle field moved from the public arena into the home. The agencies should encourage parents to overcome taboo and have ‘man talk’ or female speak’ with their children on the consequences of reckless behaviour.
This should be done preferably with some downloaded ‘clean Rap’ playing in the background from an MP3 player.