As the world marks International AIDS Day, infection rates among the youths aged between 15 -24 years in Lugari Sub-County are on the rise.
According to Constituency AIDS Control Council Coordinator Ms. Caroline Wachira, new infections among the youths’ ages 15-24 has been reported topped at 42 percent with overall Sub-County percentage of new infections dropping to 3.7 percent.
Wachira however, has insisted that there were multiple challenges facing war against the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Sub-County, urging the stakeholders not to stop until the war is won terming the scenario a wake up call for renewed multi-sectoral approach aimed at reversing the trend.
She attributed this to the youth being adventurous in nature; going about sharpening their seduction skills and seeking to implement the knowledge through practical experiences without minding their lives.
“We have also noted that high levels of poverty also push the youth into early sexual activities contributing to high levels of HIV infections and teenage pregnancies,” she added.
The official also decried careless lifestyles young people engaged in for contributing to the rise in the infection. “It is unfortunate that young people have sunk deeper into alcoholism and drug abuse which blurred their judgment on matters sexuality,” observed Ms Wachira.
She also cited stigma as a major challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS advising residents to shun traditional myths about HIV/ AIDS and stop stigmatizing people living with the virus as doing so made many shy away from going for tests and ARVs which could help save their lives.
“Some people who are infected by HIV are refusing to take anti-retroviral drugs due to stigma,” said Wachira.
However, she said the target of her office was to further reduce the prevalence by more sensitization and awareness creation about HIV/AIDS. “We have a worrying trend of infections increasing among those between ages 15 to 24 and we need to stem this,” she said.
At the same time, Wachira urged parents to be responsible and ensure they know the whereabouts of their children during holidays.
“Parents should be cautious and careful to ensure that their children do not lie to them that they are visiting relatives yet they are living with other people who might exploit them sexually,” said Ms. Wachira.
She advised Lugari residents to go for HIV testing in order to know their status. “Let all of us come forward and be tested and if found positive, it’s not the end as we will counsel you and give you life prolonging drugs,” she explained.
At the same time, residents of Chimoi area within Lugari Constituency have blamed long distance truck drivers for accelerating the spread of HIV/AIDS in their area through encouragement of unprotected sex life especially with the young girls.
The residents say the long distance heavy truck drivers entice young girls with money so that they can have unprotected sex with them placing at higher risk of infection.
“I am worried that the continued stay of these long distance heavy truck drivers in our area will completely ruin our girls,” David Ndukuyu, a resident at Chimoi market said.
On her side, the chairperson Society of Women Living With AIDS Kenya (SWAK) Lugari branch, Ms. Ebby Opisa opines that inadequate supply of condoms, poverty and aggravated by careless and irresponsible parents have been cited as some of the reasons for continued spread of HIV/AIDS.
Opisa therefore, has called on the government and other key players in the fight against HIV/AIDS to continue putting efforts in war against the monster that has enhanced poverty in developing nations.
SWAK officials believe that everybody should be brought on board so that war against HIV/AIDS can be won.
However, Opisa has called on those living with HIV/AIDS not to stop taking faithfully drugs which are aimed at controlling the effects of the virus.
Ebby is optimistic that one day scientists will develop a drug that will provide a cure and is easy to manage.