On December 5 during a sideline meeting of the ICASA being held in Kigali from December 2 to 7, 2019, health professionals and other categories of delegates, held a discussion themed ‘’Amplifying start free, stay free, AIDS free: Leaving no child behind in an HIV response that holds child rights and gender equality as central’’, within which challenges in HIV control and prevention amongst young people has been discussed on.
Chrispin Chomba, the head of Northen Hub Region in SOFAIDS regional office said there is a number of studies that have been conducted in Africa and elsewhere, “What is very critical to note is that HIV prevalence among the adults, is actually either stabilizing or reducing, but is not the case when it comes to young people, especially those between 15 and 19, the trend now is, there is increased number of cases among these adolescents,” he said.
“When it comes to HIV, the number of cases is actually increasing, and also there is no reducing number of teenage pregnancies, which tells you that they are not using condoms and they are not using contraceptives, that indicator says a lot,” he added.
In Rwanda, the recently concluded country wide Population-based HIV Impact Assessment showcased that prevalence of HIV among young adolescents (those aged 10-14 years) was 0.4%, corresponding to approximately 5,900 young adolescents living with HIV in Rwanda, for a total of 216,000 people living with HIV among those aged 10-64 years.
Overall, the survey says that the prevalence of HIV among adults in Rwanda was 3.0%, which corresponds to approximately 210,200 adults living with HIV in Rwanda, with more women (3.7%) than men (2.2%) living with HIV.
Prof. Miliam Were, a member of the champions for HIV free generation, said the main prevention method if you want to keep away from HIV and pregnancy is the condom, stressing that you can use contraception, but they will not keep you from HIV.
Talking on possible reasons, Prof. Were said less information is the leading one for youth to be involved in sex, “One of the research that we did in Kenya in the 97s, we found out that when young people know the basic information about sex and sexuality, they actually keep away from sex for a long time, because for especially young girls, they get involved in sex because they are given wrong information, for instance the girl can tell you that she did sex because the boy told her that if she don’t do sex she will never have children,” she said.
To deal with this gap, there is a need of engaging men to break the cycle, with safer partnership and families involve men in safeguarding their children. Also, men that impregnate young girls must be hold accountable, as emphasized by Bafana Khumalo, the Sanke Gender Justice Acting Director and MenEngage Africa representative.
Young people should control their sexuality by having vision and thinking always about it, and keeping in mind that freedom may have consequences as mentioned by Prof. Were.