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Girls Should Lead AIDS-Free Holiday Crusade 

By Jude Fuhnwi
 

CameroonPostline.com — Cameroonian girls have been exhorted to champion the campaign against HIV/AIDS during this summer holiday. They were also told to avoid any misdemeanours that expose them to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other sexually transmissible infections, STIs. The call was made by Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, while chairing the launching ceremony of the 2013 edition of the “AIDS – Free Holiday” campaign at the Conference Centre in Yaounde on Wednesday, July 17.
 

“Young girls, take the leadership,” the Minister urged. This year’s AIDS-Free Holiday drive was launched under the theme: “Youth, the fight against AIDS continues”. Drawing inspiration from the theme, the Public Health Minister enjoined the youth to sensitise, mobilise and protect themselves in order to live longer. Mama Fouda’s colleague of the Ministry of Youth and Civic Education, Bidoung Kpatt, reiterated that the youth should take the campaign serious. “Take it into the neighbourhoods and streets” he added.
 

This year’s drive will highlight the importance of the female condom, the organisation of educative discussion sessions and focus on voluntary and free testing exercises, in which at least 800,000 young persons are targeted. According to the Youth Minister, young people need to review their behaviour in order to grab the numerous opportunities at their disposal. He called on them to make their holiday useful by avoiding HIV/AIDS.
 

“Do not only fight against the illness, but also fight stigmatisation. I urge you to test and know your status during this campaign,” said the government official. In a brief presentation of the AIDS-Free Holiday Operation, an official of the Non-Governmental Organisation, African Synergy, Serge Ndongo, said 34 million people in the world live with the HIV virus and 69 percent of this number are in Sub Sahara Africa.
 

Ndongo said the youth and women are the most vulnerable, as 5.6 percent of women were affected in 2011, against a percentage of 2.9 for men. In Cameroon, 5900 new infections are registered per year and the youth represent 50 percent of this figure. Statistics show that only 26 percent of women and 33percent of men have a detailed knowledge about HIV/AIDS.
 

The AIDS-Free Holiday Campaign is an initiative of the founder of African Synergy, Mrs. Chantal Biya, to fight sexually transmissible infections, STIs, and the AIDS pandemic among the youth during the holidays. The sensitisation and mobilisation crusade launched on July 17, which is in its 11th edition, will end on August 10, 2013.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01449

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