Editorial: Disturbing messages of the HIV-Aids & ART Registry

READING the October 2017 HIV-Aids & ART Registry showed that this disease that has a lot to do with our people's reproductive health and their knowledge or ignorance about it is spreading its scourge among our young.

As the report said, "In October 2017, a total of 43 adolescents aged 10-19 years were reported to HARP. All were infected through sexual contact (6 male-female sex, 30 male-male sex, 7 had sex with both males & females). Further, there were three children aged 10 years and below reported to be HIV positive and all were infected through mother-to-child transmission."

Nationwide statistics from July to October 2017 showed that HIV-Aids infection for this group reached a total of 181 (40 in September, 98 in July-August). When compared with the July to October 2016 that had a total of 122, this is 48% more. In the same period in 2015, the total was only 92 or a 32.6% growth by 2016. Clearly, the numbers are growing and in the double-digit. Of these numbers, very few, from 1 to 4 were through mother-to-child infection every year. All others were through sexual contact.

When numbers are growing by double digits and adversely affect our young, then it's time to stuff the mouths of all those against mainstreaming reproductive health education among the young. We have been made complacent for so long by those who want to preserve the status quo in the unfounded belief that children have to be protected from what to them is sinful.

These numbers are saying, children are dabbling in these sinful ways and are getting into trouble because no one is talking about it because the adults that they look up to, their parents, guardians, and teachers would rather sweep the topic under the rug and believe that children are not stimulated by what they can see and access in their mobile phones and on the Internet.

We're not even talking about the young population aged 15-24, which has the highest percentage of infections.

These numbers should ring loud bells of warning. We have to take heed, we have to act now. Put an end to the illusion that children will not dabble in sex just because we prefer to not talk about it in school and at home.

Put in place proper reproductive health education and allow the children to open up their thoughts about this, let them see sympathetic adults whom they can seek out and talk to, let them understand that it's about their future and not just about forbidden thrills.