Young people bear brunt of pregnancy, HIV

Saturday June 21 2014


Unwanted pregnancies and HIV are on the rise among the youth globally.

A report by the World Health Organisation states that more than two million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are living with HIV, and many do not receive the care and support they need to stay healthy.

In addition, millions more are at risk of infections. The failure to support effective and acceptable HIV services for adolescents has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in reported Aids-related deaths in this group compared with a 30 per cent decline seen in the general population from 2005 to 2012.

New WHO recommendations released in the run-up to World Aids Day in December 2013 were the first to address the specific needs of adolescents, both for those living with HIV and those who are at risk of infection.

The global statistics are a reflection of the situation in Rwanda.

According to Director-general of Kibagabaga District Hospital, Dr Sebatunzi Osee, who is also a specialist in internal medicine, the number of adolescents who are HIV positive and pregnant is on the rise, going by the cases at the hospital.

While HIV prevalence has reduced in Gasabo district, from four per cent to 3.3 per cent, with a population of 530,907 by 2012, HIV among adolescents is still high.

“Girls are more vulnerable as some are forced to engage in unprotected sex because they are paid for the services while others were born with the condition and due to negligence in protection end up infecting others,” said Dr Sebatunzi.

However, Dr Sebatunzi said the number of adolescent girls who are both HIV and pregnant is not as high as that of those living with HIV.

WHO and Unicef recommend that adolescents get health services and support that are tailored to their needs because they are less likely than adults to be tested for HIV.