Government, in conjunction with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), yesterday urged young people to seek early treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and to use condoms. Speaking at the “CONDOMIZE” plenary dialogue with youths at the on-going 18th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Harare, Ministry of Health and Child Care STI and Condom coordinator, Mrs Ana Machiha said seeking treatment early was the best way to avoid dangerous complications caused by STIs.
“We are having problems with HIV and STIs in Africa, but we urge all young people to use condoms and we are not talking about condoms only, but abstaining helps one to prevent the acquisition of STIs,” she said.
We urge couples to know their status. Some women shy to carry condoms and when it comes to negotiating sex, women are at a higher risk and most of young girls do not have the power to negotiate sex with older men, so they are at risk of STIs.” Mrs Machiha said the highest percentage of untreated and new STIs infections were found among youths.
“When it comes to the burden of STIs, the youths contain half of the STIs at the moment, they have unplanned sex, they don’t use condoms, so today we are educating them on the dangers of unprotected sex for one can become infertile if the STI is not treated early,” she said.
“There are also some of the STIs such as syphilis which cause blindness of foetus in pregnant women.” During the dialogue with doctors at the plenary session, young people’s answers to questions proved that they lacked information on STIs. UNFPA senior technical advisor, Ms Bidia Deperthes asked some simple questions which the young people failed to answer.
“This clearly indicates that more needs to be done,” she said. “How can someone fail to know what STI means. We have made this platform for you to meet with your doctors and ask them all the questions you have and we hope you will not compromise when it comes to sex, but condomise.”
Besides the educative dialogues, various kinds of condoms are being distributed at ICASA and most of the people who took them home were the youths.