“I would rather get AIDS than fall pregnant. You can treat and hide AIDS, but after a few months of pregnancy, your tummy begins to show and the stigma becomes unbearable.” Words of 16 years old *Annabelle.
Considered one of the major disasters in some African countries, AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death among young people, in the continent.
Since 1988, World AIDS day has been celebrated every 1st December to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic, and mourn those who have died of the disease.
Even though, its origin cannot be pinpointed, we cannot refuse the fact that millions of people get infected every year, and “half of young people between 15 and 19 years old living with HIV in the world, live in 6 countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.”
According to a report by the Ministry of Health in 2018, in Kenya, “184,718 people aged 15 to 24 years were living with HIV, out of which 44,800 were new infections.” Even though, we applaud the decline in numbers compared to previous years, the figures remain astounding.
The question remains: how do we help our youths? The ‘Chukua Selfie’ campaign by the Elton John Foundation to achieve an AIDS-free world is one way. The catchy anthem sang by different stars is an excellent way to reach the youth and teach them about safe sex and self-tests. But how can we, as parents promote HIV awareness and help our children and teenagers from catching the HIV infection?
Parents need to be able to talk and reach out to their children. Gone are the days of ‘Sex ni tabia mbaya’ or ‘I am too embarrassed to talk to my child about these things’. Parents need to be able to teach their children sexuality and sexual health to avoid adding them in yet another statistic.
Your child should be able to ask you questions pertaining to sexuality and receive meaningful answers. As much as the parent/child relationship need to have boundaries, certain things should be taught at home and by parents to make sure the wrong messages are not passed.
We need to also be open with information regarding smoking, drugs and alcohol, and be able to advice them and ensure, they do not succumb to peer pressure.
If a parent is not comfortable, able or just does not know how to discuss sex with their child/teenager, Transolution Services offers parent/child counselling sessions to help discuss and navigate these challenges.
As we commemorate World AIDS Day, we mourn the departed and continue to raise awareness to stop new infections among our youth as they are after all the future of our continent.