UN official says sexual education important
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A visiting United Nations official has stressed the importance of sexual education for young people. He said that many in this age group are sexually active and as such, are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
“Without proper sex education young people, particularly girls, will [undergo] early pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Even more, they are at the high risk of contracting HIV infection,” UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe told a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Halting the transmission of HIV from mothers to children is one of the targets the UNAIDS is working toward.
According to Sidibe, traditionally men are better equipped and have the skill to protect themselves against the impact of risky sexual behaviors, however, this is not the same with girls.
“We want to see an end to HIV transmission from mothers to children. We need to [...] equip young girls, as early as possible, to make sure that they have the skill to protect themselves [...] in a more responsible manner,” he said.
Sidibe added that, globally, many countries including Indonesia have seen significant progress in the reduction of new HIV cases. A decade ago, he said, at a time when the cost of HIV treatment was very high, no one would have believed that countries could significantly reduce the number of the new infections.
Despite the progress, more people are vulnerable to HIV as the disease now affects the general population. This is a result of the changing transmission patterns, which now sees HIV transmitted among heterosexuals.
According to UNAIDS data, about 600,000 Indonesian people are living with HIV. In Indonesia, Health Ministry data shows, 76 percent of the total regencies and municipalities in the country have recorded AIDS cases.
As of June, there are 86,762 new HIV cases, with the 25 to 49 year age bracket recording the highest numbers. Of the total number, 27,175 patients still receive Antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.
It is estimated, however, that the number of people with the HIV infection will reduce to 545,248 as of this year.
“Indonesia is the only country in ASEAN which has a rapid increase of HIV/AIDS prevalence although in Indonesia, it is considered a low level epidemic,” said Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi.
More children in Indonesia are being born with HIV as heterosexuals now have a higher risk of HIV transmission in the country, she said.
The Health Ministry’s director general of disease control and environmental health Tjandra Yoga Aditama said, in a statement, during the two-day visit, Sidibe reviewed Indonesian initiatives already put in place to meet the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS targets, which were adopted at the UN General Assembly on June 10, 2011, in New York, and the “Getting to Zero on HIV/AIDS” ASEAN commitments.