HIV infections in colleges worry government
The Ministry of Education Science and Technology has said it is sad to note that young people, aged between 15 and 24, the majority of whom are students in tertiary education, account for 50 percent of new HIV infections.
Director of Higher Education, Samson Mbewe, has said with the rise in population of students in institutions of higher learning, there is need to find effective ways of fighting the virus.
“As you are aware, nowadays students have to meet their needs, unlike in the past when government was financially supporting them. This has put many of them at high risk. We cannot just watch as the situation worsens,” Mbewe said.
He was speaking in Lilongwe on Friday during the launch of HIV and Aids Strategy for Higher Education Institutions, developed by the National Council for Higher Education (Nche) in collaboration with the National Aids Commission (Nac).
“This strategy presents a foundation on which tertiary institutions in the country can base to come up with their own HIV and Aids programmes and interventions,” Mbewe said.
Nche Chief Executive Officer, Ignatio Jimu, said female students have found poverty as an excuse for transactional sexual relationships and unprotected sex both within and outside campuses.
“There is desperation among both male and female students to supplement their incomes and finance their education that compels some to engage in sexual activities. This is putting them at risk of HIV and Aids,” he said.
Nac Board member, Andrew Kaponya, said youth involvement is the key in ending HIV and Aids pandemic in the country.
“There is a great need to involve the youth in the fight against Aids if we are to accomplish our target of having an HIV and Aids free generation by 2030,” he said.
Kaponya said the students are exposed due to a wide range of interconnectedness in potential sexual relationships which provide opportunities for engaging in multiple and concurrent sexual relationships within the connections.
“While students in institutions of higher learning might be considered enlightened and able to act upon the information they receive, their age group remains among the most vulnerable to HIV, given their susceptibility to succumb to risky sexual behaviours,” he said.
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