Parents, keep an eye on children

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Posted  Tuesday, December 3  2013 at  02:00

The festive season is here and the children are back home for holidays.
It is going to be the longest school break where the vacationists will have a lot of free time as they wait for their national exams results to be released by the Uganda National Examinations Board.

In urban centres, groups of teenagers sipping away bottles of alcohol, dancing, and smoking or puffing shisha are a common sight.

However, it is also not a secret that these same teenagers are at a great risk of engaging in unsafe sex, especially after getting intoxicated. This definitely exposes them to HIV/Aids.

Uganda marked World Aids Day under the theme “Re-engaging communities for effective HIV prevention”. This message should be taken up by parents and other community leaders to keep the worrying scourge at bay.

Although Uganda was once credited as a global leader in the fight against HIV/Aids, recent statistics indicate that the national prevalence rate is rising and now stands at 7.3 per cent, with about 140,000 new infections being registered every year.

But the bad news is that 50 per cent of Ugandans, according to Health state minister Elioda Tumwesigye, do not know their status.

This is because voluntary counselling and testing remains low in the country, even though health experts say it could make a big difference if people knew their status, and those who are positive are started on treatment as soon as possible.

And because majority of Ugandans do not know their status or bother to know the status of those they engage with sexually, contracting the HIV virus becomes easy.
The situation is made worse by poverty, with older men who have money, and who may also be HIV-positive enticing young girls and infecting them with the virus.
So, as holiday makers linger around public places, they should know that the cunning age mates of their parents are targeting them.

Children, therefore, need protection. Parents should take the lead in this by keeping an eye on them and ensure that they do not get themselves in situations that can put their health and lives at risk.