National Aids Council – Youth forum |28 February 2020
Young athletes learn more on HIV/Aids and hepatitis
Some 50 young athletes from various secondary institutions came together yesterday at Maison Football at Roche Caiman for a youth forum on HIV/Aids and hepatitis organised by the National Aids Council (Nac).
The main objective of the forum was to educate the participants on HIV/Aids, means of HIV and hepatitis transmission and inform them on prevention, testing and treatment.
In Seychelles there were 108 (34 female/74 male) newly diagnosed cases of HIV in 2019, compared with 120 cases detected in 2018. This shows a decrease of 11% compared to 2018. According to UNAids, in 2018, an estimated 37.9 million people were living with HIV around the world and 770,000 people worldwide died of Aids-related illnesses.
The spokesperson of Nac, Peggy Vidot, shared with the youth that HIV/Aids epidemic has been with us for well over three decades. The national Aids response has had as its ultimate goals to reduce the spread of HIV, to improve care and provide treatment for those infected, and to minimise the social and economic impact on affected families and communities.
“We believe that the youth and young sports persons have a lot they can contribute in this fight. First and foremost you can ensure that you stay HIV free, you can help us in our awareness raising strategy by passing relevant appropriate information to your peers and encouraging everyone to do their test and know their status. You can contribute to the Aids response by encouraging everyone from refraining in partaking in risky behaviour. As a community of young athletes we count on your support,” she said.
She further noted that “we believe that HIV/Aids is not just a health issue; it is a development issue as it affects the economic and social fabric of our society. It is therefore important to build a multi-stakeholder partnership to address this issue. An approach the NAC has adopted since its inception”.
In her opening speech, the secretary of state for health, Ambassador Marie‑Pierre Lloyd, shared with the youth that the government spends an enormous amount of money on prevention, testing and treatment of HIV, Aids and viral hepatitis.
“In 2018, the national spending of all services for HIV/Aids by all stakeholders put together was estimated at around 11% of the national health budget. All the services are offered free of charge to all Seychellois citizens but we find that many people do not use the services. Practice of safe sex is promoted constantly and condoms are free of charge. Our health is our responsibility. Your health is your responsibility. You have to take great care of it. As part of the sports community, you are expected to protect yourselves and make a difference. Help your family, colleagues and friends protect themselves as well. I believe that knowledge itself is a weapon that you as a young community can use to fight HIV/Aids and hepatitis.”
According to Nac, it is expected that at the end of the forum the young men and women who have attended would have an increased awareness and true knowledge of HIV/Aids and hopefully will share with family and friends. These young sportsmen will travel overseas for competitions and training. They will better understand how to be responsible and avoid infections.
Dean Faure, a young athlete, shared with us that this forum helps us understand our responsibility. We have to make sure that we test ourselves regularly and make sure we are safe.
Bethline Freminot, another young athlete noted that HIV/Aids is a serious topic mainly for a young nation that is developing. “HIV/Aids do not look at age and anyone can get infected. You have to be strong and take it on yourself to do your tests. I advise the young athletes to not put yourself at risk.”
The forum was organized in collaboration with the Steering Committee for the National Strategic Plan for HIV/Aids and viral hepatitis and the National Sports Council.
High level officials from the Ministry of Health also attended the meeting.