Stop the Rise of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS Among Zimbabwe’s Youth

Target: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe

Goal: Demand comprehensive sexual education programs to prevent further rise in unplanned pregnancy, STIs and HIV/AIDS among Zimbabwe’s young people

Every year around the world more than 100 million sexually transmitted infections, excluding HIV, occur among people under the age of 25. The catalyst behind this problem can be attributed to lack of sexual education, limited access to health care, and economic vulnerability. In Zimbabwe, roughly a third of the population of adults has HIV, but half of all newly reported HIV cases are among people under the age of 18. Zimbabwe is experiencing a sexual health crisis among its youth population that could be amended with teaching, and yet, Zimbabwe’s leaders and politicians refuse to implement comprehensive sexual education programs in schools.

In the 1990s Uganda saw the same high rates of STIs and HIV as Zimbabwe, but while rates have increased in many regions of Africa, Uganda has seen a significant drop. Since 1993 HIV infection rates in pregnant women have dropped by half and rates among men seeking treatment have dropped by nearly a third. Although Uganda is a country of extremely conservative political make up, broad-based national commitment pushed forward by political leaders, religious and traditional groups, and NGOs consensually worked to contain the spread of HIV and STIs while providing support and care for those infected. Action was implemented with wide spread sexual education programs in schools and on the radio plus a social marketing scheme to increase condom use which was boosted from 7% nationwide to over 50% in rural areas and over 85% in urban areas.

Uganda is a prime example of how sexual education does not persuade youths to be promiscuous but rather gives them tools to make healthy and informed decisions. Sexual education does not cause youths to have sex; in fact, most studies show that it often deters young people from having sex at young ages and has been proven to drop rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Zimbabwe’s political and religious leaders have long argued that sexual education programs would only further entice young people to have sex but the truth of the matter is Zimbabwe’s youth are already having sex and ignorance does nothing to protect or deter them. They now need the tools to have sex in a safe and healthy way.

By signing the petition below, you will demand that President Robert Mugabe implement a comprehensive sexual education policy in his country’s schools and help prevent further rise in teen pregnancy, spread of STIs, and risk of infection of HIV in the young people of Zimbabwe.

PETITION LETTER

Dear President Mugabe,

You have a health crisis occurring right now in your county among your young people. If left unchecked, it will cost your economy millions and the health and livelihood of your citizens will suffer. Young people in your Zimbabwe do not have the appropriate tools to navigate their budding sexuality and are at high risk for sexually transmitted infections and contraction of HIV and AIDS; sexual education needs to be an essential part of Zimbabwe’s public school system.

If Zimbabwe’s young people are at a higher risk of infection and teen pregnancy, not only will Zimbabwe’s future workforce population shrink but also the medical cost of supporting those affected could be detrimental to the country’s economic future. By providing sexual education programs, youths would be informed in their sexual decisions that would establish a healthy future workforce. In addition, without the need to drop out of school due to teen pregnancy or sickness, an educated workforce would emerge. Educating the young people of Zimbabwe about sexual health would create a population that would be an asset to national economic growth and an increased standard of living for the entire population. Not only is Zimbabwe’s public health at stake, but the economic prosperity of your country is called into account. Sexual education is just one small step to invest in a more prosperous economic future for the citizens of Zimbabwe.

Please consider these factors and push to implement a national sexual education awareness campaign for the health and lives of your young citizens and Zimbabwe’s future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Global Press Institute

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Signatures

  • Jeanie Streit
  • Jenna Miles
  • Stefano Serpico
  • Debi Griffin
  • jeff hopkins
  • jeff hopkins
  • Betty J. Van Wicklen
  • Ginger Hill
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