HIV and Aids remains a major threat to adolescents and young people in Zimbabwe, with statistics pointing to unprotected sex and lack of information on the pandemic as the key driver, a report has revealed.
According to a the National Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) recently released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the HIV prevalence in age group 15-19 years is 3.7% and 4.6% for boys and girls respectively.
The report revealed that almost 40% and 30% of girls and boys respectively begin engaging in sexual activities before the age of 18 with 38% of these indulging in unprotected sex.
Only 62% of males aged between 15-24 years were found to have used a condom in their last sexual encounter. However, the statistics show that the majority of young men are HIV negative and therefore efforts should focus on ensuring that they remain HIV negative.
“The gender-and-age-disparity in HIV prevalence among adolescents aged 15-19 years (3.7%) and young people aged 20-24 years (8%) , is a major concern . The major reasons for the increase clearly indicate vulnerability to new HIV infection and HIV-related morbidity and morbidity,” the ASHR report says.
Speaking during the launch of the ASHR, Minister of health and child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa emphasised on the need for focused and multifaceted response program that targets adolescents and young people in localities, schools and communities
“There is need to increase access to and uptake of HIV prevention, treatment and among vulnerable and underserved including adolescents with disabilities, adolescents living HIV those in conflict with the law,” said Dr Parirenyatwa recently.
Young people and adolescents living with HIV, face a number of unique challenges as they transition to adulthood because they are less likely to be in school, likely to be orphaned, often lack access and affordability to appropriate services and are often unable to negotiate contraceptives use or even access contraceptive methods.
In addition, evidence shows that adolescent girls are at a risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), pregnancy, early marriage, early child bearing in the developing countries, which includes Zimbabwe.
Those factors heighten exposure to HIV infection and indicate unprotected sex among adolescents. STI prevalence among adolescent girls is 9% compared to 8% among adolescent boys aged 15-19 years.
Essentially, almost one in ten adolescent boys and girls aged 15-19 years have reported having an STI which increases vulnerability to HIV.
Dr David ParirenyatwaHIV Major Health Problem In Youths- ReportHIV/AidsSexually Transmitted Infections