HIV/AIDS Students risk infection
by Alfred Towo, Lloyd Dembure and Prosper Kadungure
A cursory glance at the life of Midlands State University students reveals a chilling realization with regards to HIV/AIDS vulnerability.
Their vulnerability has largely to do with the general poverty and current economic hardships experienced in the country. The hiking of University tuition fees, food and accommodation costs and the abuse of alcohol and drugs has led to students resorting to and indulging in promiscuous behavior thus making them susceptible to infection.
Generally, poverty manifests itself in all spheres of human existence in a world where fair play is not the rule but the exception. The lack of adequate financial resources has pushed many students into a calamity. Female students especially are resorting to selling their bodies to sugar daddies in order to supplement the meagre funds from home. Research has found out that females are more prone to HIV/AIDS infection than males because females become sexually active at an earlier age than males. Moreover, under the ‘catch them young’ slogan, these older men do not give the immature and inexperienced girls a chance to negotiate for protective sex thus they pay the price of contracting HIV/AIDS.
One female student revealed that she has a man who transports her to and from college daily and that she had to give in to this seemingly good Samaritan’s sexual advances after two weeks of being pestered. The old man is also said to have bought the lady a mobile-phone in order for her to move with the modern times.
Parents should be concerned about the high fees being charged by universities as this makes it difficult for the students and puts them at the risk of infection. The withdrawal of government vocational loans coupled with the introduction of university tuition fees is a thorn in the flesh for many students considering that the majority of the students do not come from well to do families. The fees are way beyond the reach of many students especially those enrolled on the parallel degree programmes who are paying as much as forty million dollars per academic semester.
The extent to which this moral degeneracy among students is evidenced by the number of used condoms strewn everywhere on campus and in the students’ opinion: condom use is the only option. Most students interviewed admitted to being sexually active. One student Joseph Damba had this to say, “Let us be frank, because I think abstinence is not practical.” Shockingly, students of different sexes are suspected to be co-habiting in the halls of residence. The issue of accommodation is such a problematic one at MSU resulting resulted in students of different sexes literary sleeping on top of each other.
Mrs Muchena from the near by Senga suburb lamented the behavior of the students. She revealed that she was utterly shocked by the youth of today, “In our days, one would not even be seen alone with a man but today our children are not embarrassed to walk in public sharing their intimate space. I hope these children know what they are doing and are at least using protection.” Some students attributed this moral decadence to too much freedom and lack of parental guidance, exacerbated by lack of experience in social issues to do with matters of the heart. The university is thus a melting pot of moral values.
Worse is the realization that students abuse alcohol and drugs. This is especially for the male students, who after taking one too many start to drip with charm and anything in a dress or skirt (or anything that is supposed to be) is all that it takes to make them spring to life and start soliciting for paid sex from prostitutes to prove their virility. They are led more by their feelings than their senses when under the influence of Bacchus the Greek God of wine.
This however comes at the backdrop of a massive campaign by the Organization of the 40 African first ladies against HIV/AIDS. While chairing the organization, Kenyan first lady Lucy Kibaki vehemently reiterated on BBC that young people have no business having access to condoms and rather should abstain from sex in order to avoid infection. “Those in school have no business having access to condoms. Those who are in university have no business having condoms in their halls of residence. They should pledge abstinence until marriage.”
The sister in charge of the Midlands State University clinic declined to comment for publication the HIV and sexually transmitted infection statistics citing that students would stop coming for treatment. She however said they were worried about all the sexually active students in general and the tremendous increase in sexually transmitted infection cases reported at the clinic. She further encouraged students to go for HIV testing and counselling but nobody is willing to take the initiative due to the HIV/AIDS stigma.
“While a country’s most valuable assets are not its mineral resources but its productive youth, one wonders how this morally naked generation can last the distance, a generation that is sexually more experienced than their fathers and mothers?” said Mr Mangoma a security guard at the university.