EGPAF takes SRH schools debate to Lubombo

The Swazi Observer | June 10, 2014

ELIZABETH Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation will soon conduct SRH school debates in the Lubombo region after successfully hosting the same in the Manzini region.

About five high schools were visited during the debates in the Manzini region including Mpuluzi, Bhunya, St. Annes, Phumelele and St Paul’s high school. The main objective of the activity was to find out how much the pupils knew about HIV related issues and teenage pregnancy (Sexual Reproductive Health issues).

Pupils presented on topics such as the importance of knowing your HIV status, HIV prevention, self-care according to your HIV status and the relationship between substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.

“From the presentations many issues were raised concerning HIV/AIDS. Among the issues raised was the emphasis that abstinence is vital for adolescents but they were not mentioning secondary abstinence especially for those who had already started having sex,” said Muzi Yende EGPAF Communi-cation and Outreach Officer.

Another thing that transpired during the debates was that many of the pupils still had misconceptions on male circumcision and condom use as they were asking why they should use a condom if they were circumcised as it was believed male circumcision reduced the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS by 60%. Another misconception that was noted during the debates was that cultural and religious beliefs were still a challenge. Some of the pupils asked if it was true that when a pastor had prayed for a person they would be healed such that they would even stop taking ARVs.

On the issue of substance abuse, most of the presenters were able to mention the disadvantages of taking substance abuse and most of them were hammering on the issue of mental instability which then makes one to be engaged in risky behaviour without proper thinking.     

“The debates in the Manzini region went well and we were able to dispel the misconceptions that the pupils had and equipped them with more knowledge to prevent themselves from unwanted pregnancies and HIV. We will soon be taking these debates to schools in the Lubombo region with the same purpose of equipping young people with knowledge so that they make informed decision about their lives and prevent themselves from HIV,” Yende said.