Parents have role in HIV prevention

What you need to know:

  • It is saddening that most animals such as gorillas have mastered science better than human beings when it comes to caring for their offsprings

On Friday June 24, the Daily Monitor newspaper   published a story, “New HIV infections among children, youth alarm experts”.
Such news should not be taken lightly, especially by parents.  Relating the situation to farming, a farmer can only expect to harvest after planting together with good climatic conditions of the season.
In the beekeeping industry, good quality honey is a result of investments in good bee hives and care for the bees.

It is saddening that most animals such as gorillas have mastered science better than human beings when it comes to caring for their offsprings. They do not delegate this core responsibility until a certain age.
But what then is happening to the human race? Oh yes, we are busy making ends meet.  As long as we do not take responsibility for caring for our children, they will continue getting infected with HIV.
Parents need to know the times have changed and if they don’t embrace the changes, core principles and values of parenting will truly be gone.

Gone are the days when mothers cared for their children. Now everyone must fend for themselves like the ducklings. Money is what matters and this search for money has taken over core responsibilities.
Parents spend most of their time away from their children, especially teenagers, and do not guide or counsel them about their sexuality. What do parents think society is teaching their children?
If parents are too busy to teach, mentor and talk with their children, then there is a looming disaster.  The damages of absenteeism in parenting are too deep to repair.

In the Daily Monitor story, it was indicated that financial intervention such as economic empowerment, health education and income generating activities to youth living with HIV/Aids in greater Masaka showed positive results such as undetectable viral load. I think these and other more can be done for all children and youth to reduce new HIV infections.
It is unfortunate that babies are sent to day care centres as soon as their mothers heal after birth for fear of losing the only source of income. From here, they join boarding school in Primary One.

The only time such a child has with their parents is on weekends during holidays, for the lucky ones.
So, for many the best way to keep their children busy is to buy them the modern electrical gadgets or let them watch unregulated television programmes yet these are channels for pornographic materials. Some families are blessed with ‘good maids’ and confess that the maid knows the children better than the parents.

As such children have no one to talk with besides maids, televisions and tablets. Their minds get saturated with all sorts of wrong information and they have to sieve for themselves what to do with all the information they have.  
I think the Covid-19 pandemic gave every parent a good experience of parenting. It is sad we ended up having some girls pregnant, and you may find some of them are part of the new HIV infection cases reported.

While many parents have invested so much to learn new things in their professional fields, less or nothing has been done as far as family life is concerned.
By being absent in our children’s lives we are exposing them to vultures who prey and end up infecting them with HIV.
The increased HIV infections among children and youth is just a reflection of the modern system that has denied parents the chance to appreciate their responsibility.
Children and youth should be educated and told to wait until marriage to engage into sexual relations. 

Religious and cultural leaders should partner with parents to promote these lost values and principles in society.  
Most importantly, parents should not delegate their roles to anyone. Parents should guide and educate their children about sexually, ensure they are protected and live in safe environment. This way we shall curb the increasing cases of HIV infections among young people.
Authored by Julian Orikiriza
[email protected]. Procurement Officer, Reach Out Mbuya Community Health Initiative