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Young Girls Urged To Do HIV/AIDS Screening 

By Linda Mbacham, Germaine Shuri, & Benly Anchunda*

Young girls all over Cameroon have been called upon to partake in the free AIDS screening exercise. Public Health Minister, Andre mama Fouda, made the call while launching the 9th edition of the

Aids-Free Holidays Campaign at the Yaounde Conference Centre.
This year’s campaign was launched under the theme: “Young girl, do your HIV screening.” The choice of theme, according to Public Health officials, is informed by the fact that more males are involved in the screening process than females, though the later remain most vulnerable.
The campaign is therefore aimed at encouraging young girls to know their HIV status and build youth capacities on the modes of transmission and means of protection from AIDS.

The representative of the African Synergy, Dr Jean Serge Ndongo, disclosed that 560 000 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. Of this number, 60 percent are females. He further revealed that 35 percent of the infected populations are youths between the ages of 15- 24, constituting the highest percentage of the infected age group.

Adoum Garoua, Minister of Youths Affairs, observed that youths are highly infected because they engage in early sexual activities, practice unprotected sex and, most especially, the females are victims of rape. He urged parents to give their children sex education.vSome 400 peer educators have been trained to sensitise the population. From August 23 to August 31, the peer educators paraded the streets of villages and cities in Cameroon to disseminate educational messages on HIV/AIDS. 

They were also charged with the duty of reinforcing the prevention methods of HIV/AIDS, encourage responsible behaviour and, most especially, encourage youths and girls in particular to go for screening. They were also involved in the free distribution of condoms and in the demonstration of its use. The campaign is also aimed at promoting the use of the female condoms.

According to a health worker, Celestin Mejanyue, who is involved in the screening process, the turnout of youths for the screening exercise has been encouraging. He further revealed that each region shall benefit a mobile van of personnel who shall carry out free screening.

At the end of the exercise 500 000 youths are expected to have been sensitized on STDs and HIV AIDS, besides  voluntary testing of at least 40 000 people, sensitising young girls on the various methods of protection, promoting the use of the female condom, educational talk and individual interview should be achieved.

AIDS- Free Holiday is an initiative of the First Lady of Cameroon, Chantal Biya, which was first launched in 2003. It is aimed at stepping up the prevention and treatment of STIs, HIV and AIDS amongst youths. AIDS-Free Holiday is organised with the technical and financial support of Government, development partners and civil society.

*[UB Students on Internship]
  

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