Kenya is among African countries struggling with the triple threat of new HIV infections, gender-based violence and pregnancy among adolescents.
New HIV Infections
The country has over the years made many investments in the HIV response that has seen HIV prevalence reduce by half over a decade, antiretroviral treatment scaled up to more than 800,000). However, adolescents and young people especially young women, still bear the brunt of the HIV epidemic due to limited access to information, services, stigma and discrimination.
In the last decade, Kenya recorded reduced new HIV infections from 101,560 in 2013 to 32,027 in 2021. However, recent data shows that most of the new infections are being reported among adolescents and young people.
In 2020, adolescents and young people between 15 and 24 years accounted for 42 per cent of the new cases.
Nairobi, Homa Bay, Uasin Gishu and Meru counties registered the highest numbers.
Health Permanent Secretary Susan Mochache announced that 98 girls aged between 10 and 19 years are infected with HIV every week due to SGBV. She was speaking in Mombasa during the National Dialogue with Regional and County Commissioners against HIV, teen pregnancies and GBV in Kenya.
Mochache said in 2021, the ministry received 12,520 cases of SGBV and was able to provide HIV prevention services to 4,664 young survivors but unfortunately, 53 of the survivors had contracted HIV.
The Ministry of Health recently revealed that between January and February 2022, they handled 45,724 cases of pregnant adolescents aged between 10 and 19 years.
As Kenya joins the World in commemorating World Population Day, experts are further calling on the need to increase advocacy on population programmes, and enhance reproductive health information to improve knowledge among adolescents.
World Population Day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.
This year’s theme is ‘End GBV, new HIV infection and pregnancy among adolescents for a resilient future.’