UNITED Nations Children’s Fund yesterday launched the Zambia´s U-report an SMS tool designed to give adolescents and young people a voice on issues that impact their lives.
The U report was first launched in Kitwe during the commemoration of the 2012 world AIDS day.
UNICEF Country representative Dr. Iyorlumun Uhaa said during the launch yesterday in Lusaka that 1,200 youths have registered,
¨ Girls have not been left out and that UNICEF is committed at the highest level to gender parity, and we are delighted to learn that an equal number of girls and boys have registered,¨ said Uhaa
He noted that statistics are showing that youth HIV risk is greatly increased when they have limited HIV knowledge and are ill-equipped with life skills to delay bad vices,
¨If youths are equipped with life skills they will be able to resist peer pressure,negotiate safer sex,reduce the number of sexual partners,demand for an HIV test and access other high impact HIV preventions services such male circumcision ,condoms and anti retrovira; drugs which all key the factors which contribute to HIV,¨ said Uhaa
He further said the recent statistics show that the HIV burden among young people in Zambia is high,27,000 new infections every year among young people aged 15-24 years, this translates to 72 new infections per day and 3 HIV infections per hour, of the 69,000 new HIV infections occurring in Zambia in 2011 among people aged 15 years and above. It showed that about 27,000 were young people aged 15-24 years,60 percent of them girls,
¨This indicates the critical need to pay attention to the young people to reduce new HIV infections in the Country,¨he said
Dr Uhaa said the U report will provide a platform for young people as they take a more central role in shaping the national HIV response at individual and community levels through regular opinion polls on HIV and STI related issues using SMS, results from polls will inform policy and programmatic decisions and guide targeted behavioural change campaigns that will integrate SMS as one key strategy.