Increased risky behaviour among youth; contributory causes for new HIV/AIDS numbers
As Guyana strives to meet the United Nations goal of eradicating or at least controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, this might be a bit challenging for the local health authority when it comes to young people contracting the virus.
Former Director of the National Aids Programme Secretariat (NAPS), Dr. Shanti Singh-Anthony said things have gotten worse in some ways among young people, in and out of school, who are increasingly contracting the HIV/AIDS virus.
Dr. Singh was at the time speaking at the launch of PANCAP’s K4 health project on Monday.
“There has been a reduction in condom use among the in school population as well as the out of school population. There has been an increase in riskier population so the age of sexual debut for e.g. was increased from the first Biological and Behavioural Surveillance (BBSS) to the second BBSS. So if you can compare those two and also calculate the data at the school health survey to it, we’ve seen generally among the youth population that the risk factors have gone up and the [protective factors have actually decreased” Dr. Singh-Anthony said.
Public Health Minister Dr. George Norton also weighed in on the issue said while there is not supporting data on the exact number of young people affected by the virus, such a population remains susceptible of becoming infected. He said efforts will be made to engage youth and maintain that level of awareness which means more public education.
PANCAP’s Director, Dereck Springer said the regional health body will be focusing a lot on prevention as a means to combat the virus.
The Biological and Behavioural Surveillance (BBSS) 2014 findings by the Public Health Ministry recorded that 1.3 percent of the population is infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.
Meanwhile, surveillance data indicates that 80 percent of such cases are from the working adult population between ages 20 to 49.
However, Guyana has managed to annually reduce the number of HIV cases since 2009 along with AIDS cases, and the number of AIDS-related deaths.