The third annual youth conference and talent EXPO 2013 on Thursday opened in Accra with a call on the youth to strictly abstain from premarital sex and concentrate on bettering their future.
Ms Charity Owusu Danso, a Heart to Heart Ambassador of the Ghana Aids Commission, who made the call, asked the youth to shun unacceptable behaviours that would lead to contracting HIV.
“As young people, you have every opportunity to avoid being infected with HIV and AIDs and this can be possible if you shun bad company and listen to the good advices from your parents,” Ms Danso said.
The two-day conference being hosted by the Christian International Youth Club (CIYC), an NGO, was on the theme: “The Youth of Ghana: HIV and AIDs, Know the Lord”.
Over 16 schools within the Labadi vicinity are attending the conference, which is also aimed at sensitizing the youth to create a platform for networking and mentoring by various speakers who have been billed to speak at the programme.
Ms Danso schooled the youth on the mode of transmission of the HIV and AIDs and how to avoid being infected, emphasising that the best way for them was to stay clear of unprotected sex.
She indicated that unlike the mid 1980s when the disease was reported in Ghana, many infected people had no hope, but now the trend had changed because Persons Living With HIV (PLHIV) now live healthy lives with the Anti-retroviral therapy.
She, therefore, advised people to stop stigmatising PLHIV and rather know their HIV status so that they could protect and preserve their lives.
Pastor Georgina Aba Wood Eshun, Executive Director, CIYC, said the conference served as a platform for spiritual edification and tackling of pertinent and burning issues confronting the youth of today.
She said the church had a major role to play in developing the lives of the youth, not only within the church, but outside as well, through outreach programmes like the youth conference to help them avoid falling into vices.
“We in the church have a role to play in the lives of our teeming youth who fill our pews and the mass outside the church. We give them the word in the church and some slip or unknowingly fall to temptations and become afflicted with diseases and its associated problems,” she said.
She said she intended to visit other regions to hold similar conferences to enable her to reach out to the youth.