NACC is concerned that more than half of all new HIV infections in Kenya are among 15 and 24-year-olds. The data shows that the new numbers are attributed to the increase in teenage pregnancies.
Speaking in Nakuru County on Friday, October 8, during deliberations between officials of NACC, National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) and Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the NACC stated that early sexual activity among teenagers was causing an increase of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
The Council’s Board painted a grim picture of the correlation between sexually transmitted infections and the mental health crisis in the country.
NACC said that the increased number of HIV cases among teenagers and young adults has also caused an uptick in suicide rates among this age group.
Challenges facing teenagers such as parental neglect, inappropriate forms of recreation, low self-esteem, use of alcohol and substance abuse, were also listed as a part of the problem.
NACC Board chairperson Angeline Siparo stated that the increasing numbers should worry the country noting that the growing HIV prevalence among teenagers, was being fueled partly by some cultural practices.
â€œYoung persons perceive themselves as having very low chances of being infected with sexually transmitted infections. A majority of them change their sex partner very frequently,” Siparo stated.
“Since they are not married, they donâ€™t feel compelled to be faithful. One risk for young people is having concurrent multiple partners. It means that they are exposing themselves more.”
NCPD Director-General, Dr Mohammed Sheikh blamed moral degradation and social skills among this age group and the dating culture in towns where young people are getting in relationships with older married people.
â€œInvolving boys and men make programming for girls more effective, by addressing both sides of the teen pregnancy equation. We need community-based programmes, led by men to educate adolescent boys on responsible manhood and encourage them to abstain from sex and to use contraception if they are sexually active,â€ Dr Sheikh stated.