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Adolescent triple threat campaign launched

Lack of sexual reproductive health education among adolescents is a key driver of the “triple threat”, which includes new HIV infections, early pregnancies, and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

According to Jedida Lemaron, Executive Director, Malkia Initiative, the rates of HIV infections and teenage pregnancies are on the rise in Kajiado County, with sexual and gender-based violence such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) accounting for the high numbers.

Speaking in Kajiado during a campaign to address Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Lemaron revealed that when a girl undergoes FGM, she starts engaging in sexual activities freely, and as a result, she is exposed to HIV infection and teenage pregnancy.

“FGM contributes to the high numbers of teenage pregnancies and HIV infections. When a girl is cut, they are viewed as women and start engaging in sexual activities,” she said.

Lemaron said young people need to be empowered by education on their sexual and reproductive health.

She called on stakeholders to join hands in the fight against the triple threat among adolescents and youth to enable them to lead better lives and realize their potential.

Kajiado Deputy Governor Martin Moshisho reiterated the need for sensitization among the youth on sexual reproductive health for them to identify the challenges they face and how to address them.

“We have seen that there is a high number of new HIV infections among young people from the ages of 10 to 19. This means that they engage in sexual activity at an early age,” said Moshisho.

The Deputy Governor further stated that drug and substance abuse, which is rampant among the youth, also contributes to the triple threat.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and the National Aids Control Council (NACC) 2021, the rate of HIV infections among adolescents is on the rise, with those aged between 10-19 accounting for 61 per cent of new HIV infections and 53 per cent of sexual gender-based violence cases.

Kenya has the 3rd highest rate of teen pregnancies worldwide, where one in every five adolescents aged 15–19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

The statistics further indicate that nine counties, including Nairobi, Kajiado, Homa Bay, Meru, Kericho, Narok, Kisii, Mandera, and Bomet, contributed to 56% of all teenage pregnancies among adolescents between 10 – 14 years of age.

By Rop Janet

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