Recognizing A Need

Recognizing A Need

In 2000 Zambia had an HIV prevalence rate of 15.1 % among those aged 15-49 years. Women being more susceptible than men for various biological and social/cultural reasons, had a prevalence rate nearly four times that of men in the same age category. The Zambian Ministry of Health reported that prevalence in urban districts was about twice as high as rural areas, and Lusaka, with a particularly concentrated population, had a particularly concentrated HIV/AIDS problem.

Young people, who constitute over 50 % of Zambia’s population, were most at-risk. Those youth living in the compounds of Lusaka, like Kalingalinga, Kalikiliki and Mtendere, had virtually no ‘healthy’ entertainment or recreation amenities. The only place pool tables, tvs, etc. were found was at bars, often enticing and misleading young people to start drinking, smoking, and engaging in other high risk activities. Given this basic lack, the Ministry/Central Board of Health found sex to be a principle form of recreation. Most young people were not motivated to protect themselves from HIV and therefore the vast majority of sex was ‘unsafe.’ These factors combined with little or no sexual reproductive health education, traditional gender roles, and strong peer pressure from a very young age, caused HIV/AIDS to be a particularly acute problem for young people.

In addition to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, youth living in these socially and economically deprived high-density urban compounds were surrounded by barriers/hindrances/a sense of hopelessness.
High levels of poverty and unemployment lead to many young people dropping out of school for lack of funds or to help their families make ends meet. With little knowledge about or access to family planning, teenage pregnancy and STIs were becoming rampant. Also, as many young people began abusing drugs and alcohol, crime rates were rising.

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