Morung Express News
Kohima | August 12
In Nagaland, as per NSACS SIMS data from April 2016 to March 2017, people within the age group 15-24 years account for 15% of HIV positivity while people in the age group of 25-34 account for 42%.
Indicating that young people are at high risk of contracting HIV infection, Metevino Sakhrie, Jt. Director, NSACS spoke on the vulnerabilities as well as hopes in preventing HIV and AIDS among the young Nagas on August 12.
The Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS), DH&FW in collaboration with the Red Ribbon Club, Mount Olive College, Kohima commemorated the International Youth Day on August 12. With the theme, ‘Hands Up For #HIV Prevention. Yes Life. No HIV’, the event was celebrated with the participation of students from various colleges in Nagaland in elocution competition and Painting competition.
In India, young people in the age group of 15 to 29 years comprise almost 25% of the country’s population however they account for about 31% of the AIDS burden. Sakhrie pointed out that physiologically, young people are more vulnerable to STIs than adults, girls more than boys. Some of the contributing factors include gender imbalances, societal norms, and economic dependency including “lack of access to correct information, misconception that young people have about modes of HIV transmission, tendency to experiment and also an environment which makes it difficult to discuss issues around sexuality.”
Despite the high figures among youth, Sakhrie expressed hope that the young people themselves can definitely change the change the course of AIDS epidemic and play a pivotal role in combating HIV/AIDS. Groups like the Red Ribbon club can start by equipping themselves with information and educating other about the modes of HIV transmission and its prevention. “We have seen how 90% of HIV transmission in our state is through sexual route.
Evidence shows that sex education helps in reducing the risk of HIV by delaying the onset of sexual activity and encouraging safer sexual behavior. The importance of preventing HIV infections among young people must remain a consistent message in all HIV related programs,” Sakrie added.
Sharing the significance of the International Youth Day, Bongwung from Baptist College, Kohima emphasized on the social inclusion of youth in decision making and access to education which will enable the young to reach their full potential.
A HIV Test & Services booth was also set up at the event where the students were encouraged to get themselves tested and receive counseling.
Participants for the elocution competition spoke on the topic, ‘My Role in preventing HIV and AIDS’ where several ideas on prevention were put forward by the students from colleges in Kohima such as: Enhancing the knowledge of the young on HIV related issues, encourage open talks on sex education and addiction, showing empathy in place of sympathy, practice the theory, practice safe sex, stop discrimination and stigma against HIV and AIDS, spread more awareness towards women who are twice likely to be affected than men, introduce sex education in educational institutions etc.