The Star (Nairobi)

25 May 2011

Kenya: Young Women At High Risk of HIV Infections

HIV infection rate is still high among young women, a HIV-Free Generation Dissemination workshop has been told. Hanna Dagnachew, a senior program advisor for the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief said young women were at a higher risk of infection more than the men. "Women aged between 20 and 24 are four times more likely to be HIV positive than their male peers," Hanna told participants at a workshop in Nairobi yesterday.

She said gender disparities were standing at 6.4 per cent for girls and 1.5 per cent for boys, with the trend being replicated at 8 per cent for older women and 4.3 per cent for men.

Despite having a low infection rate, HIV prevalence increases with age, from less than 2 per cent among youth aged 15 to 17 to almost 6 per cent among those aged between 23-24 with women being the hardest hit. "Women are still vulnerable because of lack of knowledge about HIV/Aids, indecisive and ignorance, many young women care a lot not to get pregnant but larger portion don't care about the consequences of having unprotected sex," Dr Sobbie Mulindi of National AIDs Control Council said.

He also said that unemployment, drug abuse, disparateness and idleness were other major factors accelerating HIV infection among young people in the country. "We should target to do things differently as statistics indicate in Kenya there prevalence rate is very low among the youth, and our targets should be to keep this Kenyan youths safe and to grow up as HIV negative adults," Hannah added.

The workshop also called for increases in knowledge base on HIV Aids, giving youth economic opportunities as well encouraging safe sex bahaviour as the main strategies to curb in infections among this age segment.

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