NAC, Limkokwing launch tech-based HIV intervention for youths

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Limpho Sello

the National AIDS Commission (NAC) and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology yesterday jointly launched the Southern African Development Community (SADC) technology-based HIV prevention for youth project.

The project will run simultaneously in Limkokwing campuses in Botswana, eSwatini and Lesotho. It is meant to popularise the use of technology for HIV prevention interventions among youths in the three countries.

The said countries have a high prevalence of HIV, with Lesotho leading in infections among the 15 to 24 years age group. In all three countries, the pandemic is still distinctly gendered, with a greater toll on young women than on men, according to Limkokwing Lesotho Vice Chancellor, Advocate Tefo Macheli.

Adv Macheli yesterday said HIV prevalence among local young people aged 15 to 24 years had declined from 9, 6 percent in 2014 to 7, 2 percent in 2017. However, patterns showed that there was a likelihood of sexual relations between young women from that age group and older men.

Therefore, this necessitated the technological interventions to increase the young women’s power to negotiate safe sex.

“There are heightened challenges for girls and women in these relationships regarding condom use, negotiation of safer sex and overall power dynamics in age-disparate relationships,” Adv Macheli said.

The NACs and university campuses will be capacitated to use new and emerging information and communication technology to deliver HIV prevention messages to the primary target, adolescents and young people aged 15 to 24 years, he said.

“It is envisioned that each country will establish eight partnerships to support referral and outreach HIV services for young people. Twenty-four partnerships are planned throughout the project.

“Activities will include the creation of online applications by youths, boot camps where youths will come up with short films and documentaries to share with their peers, youth and TV, radio shows amongst other deliverables. The first part of the project will last for two years before review,” Adv Macheli said.

On her part, NAC chief executive officer, Mamello Letsie, said the project would expand and complement the already existing HIV prevention programmes for young people.

“(It will) bridge the gap between the young and the old through the use of digital platforms for programming.

“The project is structured in such a way that it will be easily replicable in all three countries and beyond and further promote coordination and cooperation between the three countries HIV programmes,” Ms Letsie said.

The launch was also in line with the upcoming World AIDS Day commemorations on 1 December, she said. It will be celebrated under the theme: “Ending Inequality. Ending AIDS. Ending Pandemics.”

 

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