Participants at the Fifth Pan-African Youth Alive Education for Life Conference have called for urgent programs which address behavior change to fight HIV and AIDS. Youth Alive founder Miriam Durgan stressed that each person has a “great responsibility” in the fight against AIDS.
The conference, which began on Nov. 30 and will run until Dec. 5, brings together participants from South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya under the co-sponsorship of the Youth Alive clubs and Education for Life in Africa.
According to Catholic Information Service Africa (CISA), the conference hopes to foster common goals, policies, standards and values which will bring young people together across different regions of Africa to work for AIDS prevention.
Sr. Felicia Matola, Director of Education for Life said, “We are responsible for our own lives and the lives of those youth and adults we are privileged to serve to uphold the values that we preach to others.” She also spoke of the huge responsibility those who are infected with AIDS have to avoid infecting others.
Miriam Durgan, the founder of Youth Alive, added, “So often we hear people say government should do.., or the Church should do.., but the truth is that each one of us has a great responsibility.” Durgan also noted that HIV is still spreading rapidly, with 2-3.2 million new cases each year.
The results in the treatment of AIDS comes from medical research which examines the behaviors connected to the spread of HIV, Durgan noted. However, she expressed the widely-felt fear that the current global recession, the funding of this research will be cut and the economies of developing countries won't be able to afford treatment to the millions of new cases, reported CISA.
“Many of the global players in the fight focus on solution before addressing the root cause of the disease. They shy away from addressing the two basic issues contributing to the spread of the disease –premarital sex and promiscuity,” Fr. Daniel Mureithi from the Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate of the Kenya Episcopal Conference said. He also noted that condoms are not the solution to HIV and AIDS because they promote the disease. The solution is abstinence and faithfulness.
Edward Mariega of the Kenya National AIDS Control Council also called on youth and adults alike to work together in fighting the disease and advised the youth to demand more resources in preventing and treating AIDS.