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No sex, no condoms for kids – Church leaders

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Church leaders have described as irresponsible and unlawful calls for government to avail condoms in learning institutions saying that gesture will encourage students to engage in sexual activities.

Reverend Gabriel Tsoaneng of Botswana Council of Churches and Dr Kenaope Kenaope of the Seventh Day Adventist Church said this at a media conference organized by the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) and Embassy of United States of America.

“The law says a child cannot engage in sex before they attain the age of 18 years, and therefore as the church, we cannot support something that goes against the law of this country and the Christian religion. Why should I give condoms to my 1- year-old son or daughter? We should equip our children with knowledge,” said Tsoaneng.

Dr Kenaope shared sentiments with Tsoaneng adding that SDA-owned institutions of learning do not allow for sexual relations at any stage, including student nurses in Kanye amongst others.

“You don’t even have to talk condoms for primary schools, you go to the nursing college in Kanye where I work, we do not distribute condoms to our students. By the time those young adults leave school they are no longer interested in sex before marriage because we emphasize behavior change,” Kenaope said.

National Coordinator Richard Matlhare said that NAHPA is going to engage other stakeholder sooner to map the way forward on the issue of condom distribution in schools. “This is a matter that needs more engagement and resolution by all stakeholders,” he said.

NAHPA and the US Embassy will be launching an initiative on February 16th, in Mahalapye, to engage faith based organizations and traditional healers to encourage men and children to test for HIV and enroll on AntiRetroviral Theraphy.

US Ambassador Craig Cloud said that the initiative targets faith based organizations because these organization meet face to face with the people almost on daily basis and have power to change their mindset.

“We want to change the messaging that has been coming out – from HIV Kills to messages of hope. HIV does not have to kill. We want to target men, and young men and women to get tested and tackle the problem of violence against children. We believe that working with faith-based organizations and traditional healers is the best way to do it,” Cloud said.

Matlhare added that if properly executed, the initiative will bring positive results and reduce new infections.

It has emerged that men do not test in large numbers and those who have tested HIV Positive do not adhere to the drugs.

Others, it was said, prefer to approach traditional healers than going to health facilities when they are not well.

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